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Parliamentary heads of state : players or figureheads ? the case of Horst Köhler.

Strohmeier, Gerd and Wittlinger, Ruth (2010) 'Parliamentary heads of state : players or figureheads ? the case of Horst Köhler.', West European politics., 33 (2). pp. 237-257.


In non-presidential systems the head of state is either a monarch or a president elected directly by the voters or by an assembly. The political powers of heads of state in non-presidential systems vary from being powerful to being just a symbolic figure of representation and integration. In response to the disastrous experience of the Weimar Republic, in the Federal Republic the choice fell on the latter with the result that the political powers of the President were significantly reduced. Hence, his role is usually described as largely ceremonial and representative and he is expected to be a figure of integration rather than divisiveness. However, the role of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany seems to have changed significantly under the Presidency of Horst Köhler who appears to have made considerable use of his powers and decisively exercised his role as one of the veto players of the German political system. This article examines to what extent the German Presidency has indeed undergone an increased politicisation under Horst Köhler since 2004.

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Record Created:18 Jul 2012 15:05
Last Modified:03 Aug 2012 11:13

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