The Provisorische Zentralgewalt (German: [pʁoviˈzoːʁɪʃə tsɛnˈtʁaːlɡəˌvalt], provisional central power) was the provisional government of the Frankfurt Parliament (1848-49). Since this all-German national assembly had not been initiated by the German Confederation, it was lacking not only major constitutional bodies, such as a head of state and a government, but also legal legitimation. A modification of the Bundesakte, the constitution of the German Confederation, could have brought about such legitimation, but as it would have required the unanimous support of all 38 signatory states this was practically impossible. Partially for this reason, influential European powers such as France and Russia declined to recognize the Parliament. The delegates on the left wanted to solve this situation by creating a revolutionary parliamentary government, but, on 24 June 1848, the majority (450 – 100) voted for a compromise, the so-called Provisional Central Power.
This newly created provisional government was headed by Archduke Johann of Austria as regent (Reichsverweser), i.e., as a temporary head of state. Johann named as August von Jochmus as Foreign Minister and Navy minister. The practical task of government was performed by a cabinet, consisting of a college of ministers under the leadership of a prime minister (Ministerpräsident). At the same time, the Provisional Central Power built a government apparatus, made up of specialised ministries and special envoys, employing, for financial reasons, mainly deputies of the assembly. It was housed in the Thurn und Taxis Palace, which had been and would again be the home of the Bundesversammlung (Federal Assembly) of the German Confederation.
After the Parliament had declared the end of its work and delegated its responsibilities to the provisional government on 12 July 1848, Archduke Johann appointed his first government, under Ministerpräsident Prince Karl zu Leiningen, on 15 July.
Prime Ministers (Ministerpräsidenten) of the Provisorische Zentralgewalt of the Frankfurt Parliament
Karl zu Leiningen (15 July 1848 until 5 September 1848)
Anton von Schmerling (24 September 1848 until 15 December 1848)
Heinrich von Gagern (17 December 1848 until 10 May 1849)
With the reassertion of authority in July 1849 by the Prussian army, the Provisorische Zentralgewalt soon after became superfluous. Archduke Johann resigned and the states of the German Confederation restored on Bundesversammlung on 2 September 1850.
- Informationen zur Deutschen Konstituierenden Nationalversammlung und die provisorische Zentralgewalt beim Bundesarchiv
- Gesetz über die Einführung einer provisorischen Zentralgewalt für Deutschland vom 28. Juni 1848 und Erlass des Reichsverwesers an die deutschen Regierungen, die Übernahme der provisorischen Zentralgewalt betreffend vom 16. Juli 1848 bei verfassungen.de