This government succeeded the earlier "Wizards' Council", the earliest known form of government for the wizarding world of Harry Potter.
The Ministry keeps in touch with the British Prime Minister via a wizard's portrait (which cannot be removed) in the Prime Minister's office at 10 Downing Street, which notifies the Prime Minister of the Minister for Magic's arrival. Although the Ministry would presumably want to keep up good relations with the Muggle, the behavior of their delegates does not reflect this. Most Ministers for Magic (or at least those who are present in the Harry Potter series such as Cornelius Fudge and Rufus Scrimgeour) act in a patronizing manner towards the Muggle Prime Minister.
Furthermore, the government gives an apparent nature of (at various times) either incompetence or malice. From events depicted in the novels, it appears woefully incompetent, to the point of inability to detect or prevent an assault on the Department of Mysteries, apparently their most heavily guarded department, due to lax security. Harry, other companions (a mere group of Hogwarts students), and antagonist Voldemort were able to enter it unannounced without provoking any response whatsoever.
As seen in the Harry Potter books, the wizarding courts often display a marked lack of interest in evidence for or against a suspect, often relying on personal prejudice to decide the outcome (another key objective is to get the trial over and done with as quickly as possible). Not all criminals are even given trials. As read in Order of the Phoenix, the Ministry is quite prepared to decree and enforce draconian laws over the magical community without notice. At times, the Ministry can also seem uninterested in solving problems the wizard world faces in the books, instead choosing to ignore or cover up bad news. In the fifth installment, Minister Fudge refuses to believe that the antagonist of the books, Voldemort, had returned, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Even in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Fudge takes a long while to respond to the attacks on Hogwarts school). They are however forced to accept the return of Voldemort and act; Fudge was removed from office for incompetence and replaced by Rufus Scrimgeour.
At the close of the series, the Minister for Magic (Minister of Magic in American versions) in Britain is Kingsley Shacklebolt. Shacklebolt replaced Voldemort's puppet Pius Thicknesse, who had been placed under the Imperius Curse. Voldemort put Thicknesse in power after he killed Scrimgeour. Scrimgeour himself replaced Fudge, who in turn replaced Millicent Bagnold about whom nothing else is known. Other Ministers have included the highly popular Grogan Stump (1770–1884), who was appointed to the post in 1811 and settled the Beings vs. Beasts classification problem, and Artemisia Lufkin, the first witch to be appointed to the post. Albus Dumbledore was offered the job of Minister and refused it at least three times. In his latter days at Hogwarts, Tom Marvolo Riddle was widely predicted to become Minister due to his intelligence, magical talent and ability to forge friendships and alliances with the people around him, gathering a crowd of followers to serve his interests; however, Riddle refused all offers of assistance to find work at the Ministry.
The following is a list of known Ministers for Magic and their tenures in office:
According to Rowling, this is the department that Hermione Granger joins, after the events of the seventh instalment, transferring from the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures where she began her post-Hogwarts career.
Characters to have been Aurors in the Harry Potter series include Alastor Moody, Nymphadora Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, John Dawlish, Frank and Alice Longbottom, Rufus Scrimgeour, Gawain Robards, Proudfoot, Savage, and Williamson. Harry Potter joins the department at the age of 17 and starts as Head in 2007. Ron Weasley becomes a member of the Auror office as well.
During the First War against Voldemort, Aurors were authorised to use the Unforgivable Curses on suspected Death Eaters: given the licence to kill, coerce and torture them. Many of the Dark criminals in the Harry Potter universe seem to duel with the Auror(s) sent to arrest them, before finally giving up their freedom. They were also used to protect high profiles such as Harry, Hogwarts, and the Muggle Prime Minister.
In Harry's first minor violation — a Hover charm, actually performed by Dobby the House-elf — he is merely warned. His second violation, blowing up his Aunt Marge, was forgiven by Fudge because the Minister feared Sirius Black was after Harry, and that his safety after running away from the Dursleys took precedence. After his third offence, the letter sent to him states that he is expelled from school, that representatives will arrive at his home to destroy his wand, and that he is required to be present at a disciplinary hearing (as he has already received a warning). Dumbledore later reminds Fudge that the Ministry doesn't have the power to expel students from Hogwarts.
At Harry's hearing, he is tried by the entire Wizengamot court. This is highly unusual, however, for a simple case of underage magic being performed - Harry was originally supposed to be solely interviewed by Amelia Bones, head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
The only known worker at the Office is Mafalda Hopkirk.
In Order of the Phoenix, about fifty people are present (in Harry Potter's hearing) wearing plum-coloured robes embroidered with a silver letter "W" on the left-hand side of the chest. During his hearing, the Minister for Magic sits in the middle of the front row and does most of the interrogation while Percy Weasley acts as a stenographer. Other officials seen at the Wizengamot include Senior Undersecretary to the Minister and Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement — apparently on the Wizengamot ex officio.
Until his death, Dumbledore held the position of Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. However, he was removed during the period coinciding with Order of the Phoenix. His missing period of time could be why the Minister was seated in the middle of the first row, a seat possibly reserved for the Chief Warlock.
Clause 73 of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy reads:
Each wizarding governing body will be responsible for the concealment, care and control of all magical beasts, beings, and spirits dwelling within its territory's borders. Should any such creature cause harm to, or draw the notice of, the Muggle community, that nation's wizarding governing body will be subject to discipline by the International Confederation of Wizards.'
This department is similar in function to the real-life British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and various organs of the United Nations.
The Department of Mysteries, located on Level Nine, a department in the Ministry of Magic which studies particular enigmas (death, time, space, thought, and love) and stores made prophecies in the Harry Potter universe. During Voldemort's discriminatory regime, he forces the department to reveal that Muggle-borns actually steal magic from Pure-bloods — a complete and ridiculous lie — making them "illegal magicals", and allowing their arrest. The reason as to how muggle-borns (born from non-magical parents) acquire magic remains an embraced mystery in the books, and because the department finally "concluded" Voldemort's lie, the world was forced to believe.
Because of the covert nature surrounding this particular branch of the Wizarding government, the Department of Mysteries can be likened to real-world intelligence agencies like the CIA or MI6, in which most of their operations are kept in total secrecy from the general wizard populace in the Harry Potter world. However, the primary operations of the department seem to be more like those of scientists, the department attempting to uncover the sources and rules the governing magic in the Harry Potter universe. The name "Department of Mysteries" could be a reference to the Eleusinian Mysteries of Ancient Greece. It shares with those real-life rites a preoccupation with immortality and the cycle of time.
The rooms at the Department each seem (although not spelled out directly) to refer to various mysteries of life. These rooms include:
|Entrance Room||Large, circular room - everything black. Identical, unmarked, handle-less black doors are set at intervals around in walls. Dimly lit by blue flamed branches of candles.||When the entrance door is shut, the walls rotate, disorienting its occupants for several seconds (this happens every time a door is closed in the room). This is presumably a security device to keep non-employees of the department from reaching a desired room. Responds to a verbal request for an exit by opening the correct door.|
|Thought Chamber||A long, rectangular room lit by low hanging golden chains.||Contains a few desks and a large tank in which brains swim in a green solution. The brains wrap tentacles around Ron, which are described as "memories."|
|Space Chamber||Simply a dark room possibly simulating outer space. Visitors find themselves floating as well.||Floating solar system.|
|Death Chamber||A large, dimly lit, rectangular room with stone tiers (as benches) leading down to a pit in the centre. It is similar to an amphitheater. Called the Death Chamber by Dumbledore.||In the pit is a raised, stone dais, on which stands an ancient arch with an ancient, tattered black curtain hanging from it. Despite an absence of wind, it continuously flutters slightly, and entrances its viewers. Harry Potter hears faint voices from beyond the veil when he comes near it in the books. It was through this archway that Sirius Black fell through and died in Order of the Phoenix. It is implied that the veil somehow leads to the afterlife, as some (perhaps those who have seen someone die) are able to hear voices whispering from behind it.|
|Time Chamber||Simply a room lit by "beautiful, dancing diamond-sparkling light".||A room in which various time-related devices are kept, such as clocks of every description and Time-Turners (necklaces with hourglass pendants, which will send the wearer back in time when the pendant is turned over). It also contains a mysterious bell jar, inside which anything will grow steadily younger and younger, and then slowly return to its original age in a never-ending cycle. Hermione mentions that the department's entire stock of smashed Time-Turners were not even replaced by September 1996.|
|Hall of Prophecy||A cathedral-sized room, dark and very cold, illuminated by the dim blue fire emitted from more candle brackets.||Vertical to the door are towering shelves holding thousands of orbs (recordings of prophecies). To the left of the door are row Nos.1 - 53, while on the right of the door are rows Nos.54 and beyond. They are magically protected, so that the only people who can lift them off their shelf are the Keeper of the Hall of Prophecies and the subject or subjects of the prophecies; all others are afflicted with instant madness. Whenever an orb breaks, the recorded prophecy it contains is repeated out-loud once, after which the recording is useless. Sybill Trelawney's 1980 prophecy of "the boy who would defeat the Dark Lord" is kept in here until the events of Order of the Phoenix in which it was smashed.|
|The Ever-Locked Room||A room behind a door that remains locked at all times and which either the “‘‘Alohomora’’” spell or magical unlocking penknives cannot unlock.||According to Dumbledore, behind that door is the most mysterious subject of study in the department: a force "that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than the forces of nature... It is the power held within that room that you [Harry] possess in such quantities and which Voldemort has not at all." In Half-Blood Prince, this power was confirmed through a dialogue between Harry and Dumbledore to be love.|
Bagman loves gambling, which got him in financial trouble so severe that he pays some of his creditors with disappearing Leprechaun Gold, after they have gambled on the Quidditch World Cup. After the World Cup final, some goblins corner him in the woods outside the stadium and take all the gold he had on him, which is not enough to cover his debts. To clear his debts with the goblins, Bagman makes a bet on the Triwizard Tournament, of which he is one of the judges. He bets the goblins that Harry would win. He tries to help Harry over the course of the Tournament, giving him a perfect score in the First Task even though he is injured, and offering him advice. Harry and Cedric Diggory end up tying for first place in the tournament, and Bagman does not win the bet as the goblins argue that Bagman was betting Harry would win outright. Bagman runs away after the Third Task of the Tournament.
Bagman's character was cut from the film adaptation of book four. Some of Ludo's primary roles in the story were primarily performed by Cornelius Fudge and Barty Crouch, Sr. in the film adaptation. Bagman appears in the Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup video game as a Quidditch announcer.
Barty Crouch, Sr makes his first appearance in the series at the Quidditch world cup in Goblet of Fire. Crouch accuses Harry of attempting to set off the Dark Mark, and when Winky is found to have Harry’s wand, he angrily dismisses Winky, as the house-elf is supposed to look after his son who is always under an Invisibility Cloak. Voldemort and his servant Peter Pettigrew show up at the Crouch family home and put Crouch Sr under the Imperius Curse, freeing Crouch Jr from the Imperius Curse placed on him by his father and thus rejoining Voldemort. Crouch continues to appear in public at first and is one of the five judges at the Triwizard Tournament. However, worried that Crouch would fight the Imperius Curse, Voldemort later keeps him imprisoned within the house and has him communicate exclusively through supervised owl post. Later in the book, Crouch, who has escaped from his home, meets Harry and Viktor Krum in the Forbidden Forest and begs to see Dumbledore. However, Harry, while on his way to inform Dumbledore of the events, unwittingly alerts Crouch Jr, in the disguise of Mad-Eye Moody, to his father's presence. Crouch Jr instantly goes to the Forest, kills his own father, transfigures his body into a bone, and buries it on the Hogwarts grounds.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Dawlish accompanies Fudge to Hogwarts to confront Harry about the secret Dumbledore's Army meetings. Dawlish is knocked out along with Fudge, Umbridge, and Kingsley when Dumbledore, who took the blame for the Army on himself, escapes. A few weeks later, Dawlish is among the wizards who attempt to arrest Rubeus Hagrid when Umbridge sacks the gamekeeper. Still later, Dawlish arrives at the Ministry of Magic with Fudge after the battle at the Department of Mysteries is over. Fudge then sends him to attend to the captured Death Eaters. Dawlish appears again in Half-Blood Prince guarding Hogwarts after the commencement of the Second War. He is sent to follow Dumbledore when the Headmaster leaves school to search for Voldemort's Horcruxes, but is "regretfully" hexed by the Headmaster. He is Confunded by an Order member early on in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and gives Death Eater Yaxley false information on Harry's removal from the Dursleys' home. Being Confunded, he is defeated by Dirk Cresswell, who then escapes halfway on the way to Azkaban. Later, Dawlish is sent to arrest Augusta Longbottom. After a struggle, her attack places Dawlish in St Mungo's Hospital.
Dawlish's first name is not revealed in the books or films. However, Rowling said in an interview with the podcast "PotterCast" that she named him John, owing to host John Noe's appreciation of the character.
His kindly relationship to Harry suddenly changes in Goblet of Fire. When Harry emerges from the Triwizard Tournament's third task after having seen the rebirth of Voldemort, Fudge refuses to believe it, worried about the fallout of announcing Voldemort's return, and that that would be the end of the Wizarding world's years of peace, and decided to merely ignore all of the evidence rather than accept the truth. The author has since stated that Fudge's behavior mirrors that of Neville Chamberlain in the lead-up to World War II.
In Order of the Phoenix, Fudge orchestrates a vicious smear campaign through the Daily Prophet to present Dumbledore as a senile old fool, and Harry as an unstable, attention-seeking liar. He also passes a law allowing him to place Dolores Umbridge, his Senior Undersecretary, as a teacher at Hogwarts; he then appoints her "High Inquisitor," and ultimately Dumbledore's successor as Headmaster, giving her (and by extension, himself) primary control of how Hogwarts is managed, because Fudge is particularly afraid that Dumbledore is a threat to his power and that he is planning to train the Hogwarts students to overthrow the Ministry. However, this is overturned after Voldemort appears in the Ministry of Magic, which forces Fudge to be sacked as Minister for Magic and replaced by Rufus Scrimgeour, though he stays on as a powerless advisor in Half-Blood Prince. Fudge is last mentioned in the series as one of the attendees at Dumbledore's funeral, and his fate during Voldemort's takeover of the Ministry during the following year is unknown.
Scrimgeour seeks to raise the wizarding population's morale by asking Harry, who has been labelled as the "Chosen One", to be seen visiting the Ministry, so that the public would believe that Harry supports the Ministry's actions against Voldemort. This becomes a source of contention between the Minister and Dumbledore, who does not support this idea. Harry also rejects the role primarily because of his own antagonistic history with the Ministry, and the Ministry's treatment of Dumbledore and Stan Shunpike. Scrimgeour makes a short appearance in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at the Burrow with Dumbledore's will. He is murdered shortly after the visit when Death Eaters take over the Ministry. He is tortured for Harry's whereabouts by Voldemort before he is killed. Harry felt a "rush of gratitude" to hear that Scrimgeour, in his final act, attempted to protect Harry by refusing to disclose his location. With the Ministry in Death Eaters' hands, the official line for Scrimgeour's death is that he resigned.
After the coup in which Scrimgeour is killed, the Ministry comes under the de facto control of Voldemort, who appoints Thicknesse as his puppet Minister. Thicknesse joins the ranks of the Death Eaters for the rest of the book and fights with them at the Battle of Hogwarts, where he duels against Percy Weasley (who Transfigures him into a sea urchin). Following the end of the battle, the Imperius Curse that was placed upon him is broken. Kingsley Shacklebolt replaces him as interim (then permanent) Minister for Magic. Having been mind-controlled for nearly the entire book, not much can be said about the "real" Thicknesse.
Umbridge is first presented as an interrogator at Harry's trial for underage use of magic in the opening chapters of Order of the Phoenix. It is later revealed that Umbridge herself had ordered Dementors to attack Harry in an attempt to frame or silence him. Umbridge is subsequently installed at Hogwarts as Defence Against the Dark Arts professor by order of the Ministry, to provide on the ground feedback and address what the Ministry believes are falling standards. Her teaching consists only of defensive magical theory, due to Fudge's paranoid fear that Dumbledore intends to use his students as an army to bring down the Ministry. She is soon appointed the first "High Inquisitor" of Hogwarts, in which position she is given extraordinary powers over the students, teachers, and curriculum. Umbridge creates the "Inquisitorial Squad", which rewards some students for reporting on others and sanctions them to act as enforcers of Umbridge's rules. She later fires Sybill Trelawney as a teacher and deposes Dumbledore, ultimately becoming Headmistress. Towards the final chapters of Order of the Phoenix, Umbridge tries to attack Hagrid, but her attempt is thwarted. Hagrid escapes Hogwarts , and Minerva McGonagall is severely injured and is sent to St. Mungo's hospital, clearing the way for Umbridge to assume complete control of the school. When Fred and George Weasley escape as well, a riot breaks out.
Umbridge's time at Hogwarts is characterised by cruelty and abusive punishments against students; she shows signs of sadism by forcing Harry, Lee Jordan and other students who get detention from her to write lines using a quill that magically causes the words to be cut into the skin on the back of the writer's hand and uses their blood as ink. Umbridge even uses or attempts to use the potion Veritaserum and Cruciatus Curse in order to extract information from students. Her hatred for non-wizards and semi-human beings such as vampires, werewolves and centaurs also is made prominent. It is in fact she who provokes her abduction by a herd of angry centaurs, by speaking derisively of them to their faces. She later makes a cameo appearance in Half-Blood Prince, where Harry is disgusted to hear that she is still working for the Ministry and that she attended Dumbledore's funeral.
Umbridge plays a smaller role in Deathly Hallows as the head of the Muggle-born Registration Commission, and appears to have written a leaflet called "Mudbloods and the dangers they pose to a peaceful pure-blood society", indicating her full support of Voldemort's regime, whether or not she knew the truth about who was running it. She has somehow obtained Mad-Eye Moody's magical eye after his death, and uses it to spy on the other Ministry workers from her office. She has also taken Slytherin's locket as a bribe from Mundungus Fletcher after he stole it from 12 Grimmauld Place. She uses the trinket to solidify her pure-blood credentials, claiming the "S" on the locket to stand for "Selwyn", her ancestral name, rather than "Slytherin". The recovery of this locket forms a major plotline in Deathly Hallows. Despite Harry being unable to conjure a Patronus while wearing the locket, Umbridge manages to do so. Rowling explains this by Dolores being a "very nasty piece of work"; the object aiding her instead of hindering her. She is attacked by Harry and his friends, who recover the Horcrux while Harry takes Moody's eye. Following Voldemort's demise and the de-corruption of the Ministry, Umbridge is arrested, interrogated, put on trial, and imprisoned for her crimes against Muggle-borns.
Novelist Stephen King, writing as a book reviewer for the 11 July 2003 Entertainment Weekly, noted the success of any novel is due to a great villain, with Umbridge as the "greatest make-believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter...".
|Broderick Bode||A worker in the Department of Mysteries. He is placed under the Imperius Curse by Lucius Malfoy, who sought to obtain the prophecy concerning Harry and Voldemort. Bode suffered spell damage from his attempt to steal the prophecy and was sent to St Mungo's Hospital; he was subsequently strangled by a potted Devil's Snare plant at Christmas to prevent him from revealing any information about the Death Eaters' plot.|
|Amelia Susan Bones||Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. She is aunt to Susan Bones (Harry's classmate from Hufflepuff), and sister to Edgar Bones (a member of the Order of the Phoenix killed during the first war by Death Eaters). Madam Bones sat on the Wizengamot and presided over Harry's trial in book 5. During the trial, Madam Bones expressed admiration for Harry's ability to produce a corporeal Patronus at such a young age. Bones is believed to have been brutally murdered by Voldemort himself shortly before the events that take place in book 6.|
|Reginald "Reg" Cattermole||Works for magical maintenance in the Ministry. In the final book, Ron uses some of his hair to impersonate him to enter into the Ministry to steal Slytherin's locket. His wife, Muggle-born Mary Elizabeth Cattermole, was being questioned at the time that Harry, Ron and Hermione stole the locket.|
|Dirk Cresswell||Muggle-born, member of the Slug Club during his time as Hogwarts student. He was Head of the Goblin Liaison Office until Albert Runcorn exposed his falsification of his family tree and caused him to be sent to Azkaban. However, he escaped, but eventually was killed by Snatchers along with Ted Tonks and Gornuk the goblin.|
|Amos Diggory||Father of Cedric Diggory. Works in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Unlike his son, who is quite modest, Amos likes to boast about his son's accomplishments and gives Harry a hard time (although in the film version of Goblet of Fire, he is presented as quite amicable).|
|Mafalda Hopkirk||Works in the Improper Use of Magic Office in the Ministry, and is responsible for sending out warnings when magic by the underaged is detected. In the final book, Hermione uses some of her hair to impersonate her to enter into the Ministry to steal Slytherin's locket.|
|Griselda Marchbanks||An elder witch who resigned from the Wizengamot and was already working for the Wizarding Examinations Authority in Dumbledore's time as student. Marchbanks personally examines Harry and some of the students of his year's O.W.L.s.|
|Bob Ogden||Rowling used a memory of his that Harry and Dumbledore witnessed to expose the background of the House of Gaunt, Voldemort's maternal family. He worked as a Magical Law Enforcer and was Head of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad before he died.|
|Albert Runcorn||While his allegiance is never made explicit, it is implied that he is a supporter of the Death Eaters. In a discussion with Arthur Weasley, he is revealed to have discovered the falsified genealogy for Dirk Cresswell. Harry uses some of his hair to impersonate him to enter into the Ministry to steal Slytherin's locket.|
|Wilkie Twycross||A Ministry teacher who teaches sixth year students how to apparate; notable for his three Ds: determination, destination and deliberation.|