Bundestag is constituted: new presidium – new culture?

To analyse

Status: 10/26/2021 7:55 p.m.

There is no new government yet, but there is a new Bundestag. Not everyone has reinvented themselves, especially not the AfD. But a lot in the first session sounded like a new beginning – and like old strengths.

By Corinna Emundts, tagesschau.de

One might think that everything is as usual in parliament – at least since the time after the AfD parliamentary group first moved in in October 2017. Wolfgang Schäuble opens the session from the high seat of the Bundestag presidium and gives a far-reaching speech to the parliamentarians – in a non-partisan, democratic urgency, as it has already become typical for the late Schäuble. As always, the AfD ignites its “booth magic”, as it is called by an FDP MP: The greatest possible provocation by means of wording and amendments to the rules of procedure, which are intended to disrupt the process and guarantee attention – they are not able to win a majority.

Corinna Emundts

And yet something is different in this constituent meeting than in October 2017. Chancellor Angela Merkel – now only executive in office – is this time a spectator from a gallery. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and former Bundestag President Rita Süssmuth have taken their seats next to her, which underlines the historical momentum of the situation.

A Schäuble era comes to an end here, but also a Merkel era. Something new is to emerge with a government whose parties the SPD, Greens and FDP have never formed a coalition at the federal level in such a three-way constellation.

The new President of the Bundestag Bärbel Bas (SPD) has Yvonne Magwas (CDU), Claudia Roth (Greens) and Petra Pau (left) as well as Aydan Özoguz (SPD) as deputies. Wolfgang Kubicki (FDP) was re-elected as Vice President.

Bild: picture alliance/dpa

Strongly female executive committee – a novelty

CDU Grand Seigneur Schäuble only speaks as senior president to open the session of the new parliament and to moderate the transition up to the election of the new Bundestag presidium – for whose post this time predominantly women were nominated by the parliamentary groups. The right to propose the chair went to the SPD on the basis of the election results; each parliamentary group could nominate the deputies. Except for the FDP and AfD, women had finally prevailed everywhere here.

“Politics is still male,” says Rita Süssmuth tagesschau.de – And for that reason alone, this news of the day is a small sensation: In the end, Bärbel Bas, the new President of the Bundestag, will be a woman. It will have four deputies and only one deputy, and the Union parliamentary group also sent after internal debates similar to those of the SPD – finally Ivonne Magwas, the chairwoman of the women’s group in the CDU / CSU parliamentary group.

Not a side note, but a strong signal

The fact that the Bundestag presidium is now so female is not a side note for the 27-year-old Green politician Nyke Slawik, but a strong signal. In general, the newcomer to the Bundestag perceives a great spirit of optimism in parliament. Bigger, younger, more feminine – and then also with three parliamentary groups on the way to a government with a major modernization approach – this spirit of optimism can be felt at least in the three parliamentary groups SPD, Greens and FDP at the constituent session of the Bundestag. On the other hand, many members of the strongly decimated Union faction seem rather quiet and shadowy on this day.

So it was good to applaud Schäuble’s admonishing words again, which was honored across the political groups. After a pandemic phase in which the loss of importance of Parliament to the executive had been discussed again and again, the 79-year-old urged the revival of this institution: “If we want to strengthen the principle of representation, then we have to keep repeating ourselves strive for the fascination of the great contentious debate. “

“Don’t just look for the lowest common denominator”

Schäuble seemed to consider it necessary to really encourage the MPs, including 279 newcomers, not to look for the lowest common denominator, despite the necessity of reaching a political compromise: “Do we dare to do something, whether in government responsibility or as an opposition, otherwise we can lost what democracy urgently needs – political leadership. “

And the parliamentary managing director of the CDU / CSU parliamentary group, Michael Grosse-Brömer, did not spread the spirit of despondency, on the contrary: Like the previous speaker Carsten Schneider from the SPD, he justified the rejection of the AfD motion, which the senior president of the Bundestag after Years of life, not wanted to determine by parliamentary years – what the 80-year-old AfD politician and former parliamentary group leader Alexander Gauland would have been.

Alliance against parliamentary troublemakers

An alliance of the democrats against the parliamentary troublemaker AfD becomes noticeable – with a union that will now presumably go into the opposition: “I think”, says Grosse-Brömer in the direction of Schneider and the SPD, “we have a good foundation, continue to be sensible to work together “. The roles are redistributed in parliament, the AfD – so far the largest opposition faction – has to deal with a somewhat smaller one.

It remains to be seen whether the strongly female presidium will also have an impact on the culture of debate. At her first appearance, Parliament’s President Bas closed with “heartfelt thanks to the AfD” after the AfD had renounced another ballot for its failed Bundestag deputy candidate. It is doubtful whether this will only be the prelude to a more constructive mode of the AfD. That was probably just a small tactical pullback on the first day of the new Bundestag.


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