New Bundestag: “The culture of debate will change”


Status: 25.10.2021 6:51 p.m.

Bigger, younger, more colorful – the new Bundestag, which will meet for its constituent session on Tuesday, is different. The current structure of power in parliament is also changing – with consequences, as political scientist Kropp said in explained. The Bundestag is bigger than ever, what effects does that have on parliamentary work? Or is it likely that nothing will change?

Sabine Kropp: If a parliament gets bigger, it doesn’t necessarily become more powerful – one can say that in general. The smaller parliamentary groups could, however, benefit from this: if they have more MEPs, they can participate more intensively in the committees. For them this may mean an improved ability to work, but overall a larger organization is not necessarily more powerful.

Communication gets more complicated Why does size affect clout?

Body: Coordination within the political groups is tending to become more difficult, and the size of the specialist committees is also growing. With the growing number of people, communication becomes more complicated, especially if you want to discuss the content of government drafts and change them if necessary. There is a growing danger that the committee’s position determination is anticipated by the parliamentary groups’ preparatory working groups – and that the committee hardly discusses factual issues anymore, but rather that the governing parliamentary groups simply assert themselves over the opposition with a majority.

Sabine Kropp

Since 2013 Sabine Kropp has held the chair “Political System of the FRG” at the Otto Suhr Institute for Political Science at the Free University of Berlin. Among other things, she researches federalism. The size distribution of the six parties in the Bundestag is also new. The two big ones got significantly smaller, the small ones partly bigger – does that change something in the previous power structure in parliament and the way in which one speaks to one another?

Body: The differences in size between the parties have decreased significantly and the medium-sized have gained in self-confidence and relative strength in parliament. One can assume that this is reflected in a culture of debate in which the two small and medium-sized parties, the Greens and the FDP, appear more self-confidently towards the SPD and CDU – even within a traffic light coalition.

The new Bundestag in numbers

Heike Keuthen, ARD news, daily news 5:00 p.m., 25.10.2021

Who is sitting next to the AfD? In any case, the AfD is losing its role as the largest opposition faction and has to find itself anew in the structure. Do you see a marginalization or a potential radicalization of this party?

Body: So far, the AfD has shaped parliamentary operations in the last legislative period with anti-parliamentary behavior. And with the arrival of the new MPs and the strengthening of their right-wing extremist wing in recent years, one can certainly assume that this anti-parliamentary behavior is more likely to get a boost – rather than that one could accept a process of alignment in the sense of integration into parliamentary operations . The FDP no longer wants to sit next to the AfD – can this also be seen symbolically for the fact that the fight for the political center of parliament and the electorate is growing?

Body: The images that the media broadcast from Parliament are very powerful. In this respect, one can understand that the opposition and the presumed governing parties such as the FDP do not want to take a seat next to the AfD. On the one hand, this has been described as extremely unpleasant in practice, especially by female MPs – who have often been covered with remarks that are not appropriate to the “House”. On the other hand, one does not want to be associated with a fundamental anti-parliamentary opposition. In the past Corona months, the executive, i.e. the meetings between the prime ministers and the government, was more in focus. Will parliamentarism get stronger again now?

Body: On the one hand, Paragraph 126a (“Special application of the rules of procedure due to the general impairment caused by COVID-19”) of the Bundestag’s rules of procedure expires, according to which it was possible for a quarter of the members of the Bundestag to have a quorum. If it expires and is not renewed, it is also easier for the newly elected MPs to be socialized into parliamentary operations. This is indispensable for the functioning of the new Bundestag: newly elected members who can only be connected online are not able to get involved in parliamentary operations and form a strong parliament. I assume that the new Bundestag will not renew this paragraph.

This is the only way to create the conditions for a powerful appearance by the Bundestag, but the possibilities must also be used by the members of the Bundestag.

New style with a Chancellor Scholz? Should Olaf Scholz actually become Chancellor, could a new style move in with him? Merkel was rather frugal when it comes to parliamentary participation and question time …

Body: That’s open. One can at least say that Scholz, as part of the old government, helped shape this style. The Bundestag’s rules of procedure could of course be changed through more extensive question times or similar elements, but that would require a two-thirds majority in parliament. If a traffic light coalition came into office, the CDU / CSU parliamentary group would be the strong opposition party that wants to distinguish itself as an opponent to the incumbent government. Then the question is to what extent a traffic light government would like to expose itself to a more intensive debate and questioning by a strong opposition – and thus perhaps also offer the AfD additional platforms to present itself to the public with polemics and fundamental opposition.

A new style will also depend on how the Union will profile itself in the opposition and how, after 16 years in government, it will take on this role, which is really completely new to it.

The interview was conducted by Corinna Emundts,

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