Important personnel decisions: The new Bundestag is threatened with a dispute at the first meeting

Important personnel decisions
The new Bundestag is threatened with a dispute at the first session

The newly elected Bundestag will meet for the first time this Tuesday. This marks the beginning of the 20th legislative period. But even in the run-up, a conflict between the factions became apparent. He’s not new.

With its constituent session, the Bundestag, which was elected on September 26, started its work on Tuesday. The previous President of the Bundestag, Wolfgang Schäuble, will open the session as the longest-serving member and chair it until a successor has been elected. The SPD has nominated the MP Bärbel Bas for this. An old dispute is also expected to continue in the new parliament when it comes to a vice-presidency for the AfD.

Beginning of the 20th electoral term

The 20th legislative period begins with the meeting of the newly elected Bundestag. Until the 2017 election, the first session was opened by the oldest member of parliament. However, this regulation was then changed so that the President-in-Office is now the Member with the most parliamentary years. That is by far Schäuble, who has been a member of the Bundestag since 1972.

This change was made at the time to prevent Alexander Gauland of the AfD from opening the first meeting as senior president. The Basic Law stipulates in Article 39 that the new Bundestag meets no later than the 30th day after its election – that is on Tuesday. Schäuble will start with a speech and the MPs will probably get in the mood for the four years ahead.

Election of the President of the Bundestag

The most important item on the agenda of the first meeting is the election of the President of the Bundestag and his deputy. President of the Bundestag – in terms of protocol, this is the second highest state office after the Federal President. Traditionally, this office belongs to the strongest parliamentary group in the Bundestag, now the SPD. The MP she nominated by Bas can be sure of her choice because the other parliamentary groups usually agree to the changes. If they are elected, Bas will take over the chairmanship of the meeting and also give a speech.

Election of the vice-presidents

The first hours in office should be the first test for Bas. Because it is becoming apparent that the election of the vice-presidents – as in the old electoral term – is likely to lead to a dispute with the AfD. This had failed since 2017 with six candidates in three ballots each. Now the right-wing populist party is sending the new MP Michael Kaufmann into the race – a clever move, because he has experience as Vice President of the Thuringian State Parliament. The last meeting he chaired last Friday, reported Kaufmann. His comment on the previous behavior of the other parliamentary groups when filling this post: “These are really unworthy games.” However, there are many indications that Kaufmann will not get the necessary number of votes either.

Candidates from the other parliamentary groups, on the other hand, can count on the necessary support. The CDU politician Yvonne Magwas is to join the presidium. According to dpa information, she was unanimously nominated by the Union parliamentary group. The SPD parliamentary group also appointed Aydan Özoguz, the Federal Government’s former integration commissioner, as a new member of the Presidium. The previous Vice-Presidents Claudia Roth from the Greens, Petra Pau from the Left and Wolfgang Kubicki from the FDP were reappointed for office by their parliamentary groups with large majorities.

Federal government only executive

When the new Bundestag meets, the term of office of the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Ministers ends in accordance with Article 69 of the Basic Law. That is why the government bench will remain empty in the constituent session of the Bundestag. After the meeting, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her cabinet will drive up to Bellevue Palace. There, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will present them with the certificates of discharge. However, this does not mean that Germany is without a government, even if the SPD, Greens and FDP are still struggling to form a traffic light coalition. Article 69 also provides that the Federal President can request the Federal Chancellor and her ministers to continue business until a successor is appointed. This is exactly what Steinmeier will do.

Session under 3G conditions

For the first time in months, the seats in the Reichstag building will be fully occupied on Tuesday. The corona-related distance rules with empty seats do not apply. Strict 3G regulations apply for this. All MPs must provide evidence that they have been vaccinated, recovered or have just been tested. Only then are they allowed into the plenary hall. Anyone who proves that they meet the 3G rules gets a black, red and gold ribbon around the wrist. According to the Bundestag administration, this procedure was agreed by all parliamentary groups. MEPs who do not comply can only watch the meeting from a specially reserved gallery.

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