A big day is approaching on Tuesday in the Bundestag: Angela Merkel changes sides – and the first changes in the course become apparent.
Berlin – On Tuesday (October 26th) one of the most important recurring moments in German politics is due: the new Bundestag is constituted. And that on the latest possible date: The Basic Law stipulates that parliament must meet for the first time no later than the 30th day after the election – the federal election took place on September 26th.
The newly elected MPs do not exercise their mandate until the constituent session. Until then, the previous Bundestag is still “in office”. In any case, there is a small flood of symbolic and actually significant files in the house. The big day at a glance:
Bundestag is constituted: the timetable
At 8.30 a.m. on Tuesday there will be an ecumenical service in Berlin’s St. Mary’s Church. The session of the Bundestag begins at 11 a.m. in the Reichstag building. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will take part in both events. The outgoing Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) has ordered that the 3-G rule applies to staying in the Bundestag buildings on Tuesday due to the ongoing corona risk.
First of all, the senior president takes the chair – and here there is already the first small political issue. Until 2017, the rule was that the eldest member in terms of age took over the role of age president. Because it was feared in the run-up to the election that the post could go to the AfD, the regulation was changed. Now the MP, who has been represented in the Bundestag for the longest time, holds the scepter. That affects this year.
Because according to the new rule, the previous President of the Bundestag, Wolfgang Schäuble, is old-age president. The oldest member of the new Bundestag, however, is not 79-year-old Schäuble, but 80-year-old ex-AfD parliamentary group leader Alexander Gauland. The senior president first appoints a few members as temporary secretaries, after which all members of the Bundestag are called by name.
Bundestag: How does the election of the new Bundestag presidium work?
After the quorum has been established, the President of Parliament as well as the deputies and secretaries are elected. The president is traditionally the largest parliamentary group – this time it is the SPD. The Social Democrats have proposed their previous deputy parliamentary group leader, Bärbel Bas, for the post.
In principle, each parliamentary group is entitled to one of the vice positions in the presidium. However, the AfD should go away empty-handed again this time. In the legislative period that has now ended, it has put up candidates for it several times, but all of them failed to achieve the required majority. That should be the case again this time. So there should be five Bundestag Vice-Presidents again – from the Union, SPD, FDP, Greens and Left.
Bundestag in action – how big is the new parliament of the Federal Republic?
With 736 members, the 20th Bundestag has more members than any of its predecessors. The largest parliamentary group is the SPD with 206 members, followed by the CDU / CSU with 197. In third place are the Greens, who have 118 members. On top of that come the FDP with 92, the AfD with 82 and the Left with 39 members. There are also two non-attached MPs: Stefan Seidler from the Südschleswigschen Voters’ Association and the AfD politician Matthias Helferich.
Seating arrangement in the new Bundestag – changes are still possible
So far in the plenary hall – seen from the Bundestag presidium – the AfD sit on the far right, next to it the FDP, then the Union, the Greens, the SPD and then the Left. The Liberals pushed for a change because they didn’t want to stay with the AfD. But the Union is reluctant to do this, so at least for the time being everything will stay the same.
Federal government Merkel: Will the constitution of the new Bundestag have any consequences?
It is true that Federal President Steinmeier hands Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the members of the government their dismissal certificates late on Tuesday afternoon. However, the cabinet remains in office until a new government is elected. The traffic light parties are currently aiming for an agreement on a coalition at the beginning of December – so the Merkel IV cabinet still has a little time. Accordingly, Merkel will not sit on the government bench as usual on Tuesday, but will take a seat in the official gallery.
The caretaker government can act like a normal one. So it can introduce laws or even a new budget in the Bundestag. The ministers also retain their powers. You can issue legal ordinances and administrative regulations. For its part, Parliament has the same control rights over the governing government as it normally does. The constellation could soon cause interesting debates: A successor arrangement for the expiring “epidemic situation” will have to be found by November 25th. (AFP / fn)
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