Germany’s new parliament elects Social Democrat as speaker

Published October 27, 2021
German Chancellor Angela Merkel pays a farewell call on President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Tuesday. She will stay in office until a successor is elected.— AP
German Chancellor Angela Merkel pays a farewell call on President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Tuesday. She will stay in office until a successor is elected.— AP

BERLIN: Germany’s newly elected parliament held its first meeting on Tuesday and elected a lawmaker from the center-left Social Democratic Party as speaker of the 736-member lower house, or Bundestag.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the session although she is no longer a lawmaker. She sat in the visitor stands of parliament.

Merkel’s Union bloc finished behind the Social Democrats in Germany’s federal election last month.

The citizens are looking to us, and their expectations of parliament are rightly high,” Wolfgang Schaeuble, the previous parliament speaker, said. “We all should continue to do everything we can to meet their expectations.

Schaeuble, 79, a conservative veteran and former finance and interior minister, is the longest-serving member of parliament. He has been a lawmaker since 1972.

The new speaker, Baerbel Bas, has been a member of the Bundestag since 2009. Bas, 53, was a deputy leader of her party’s parliamentary group in the last parliament and its spokesperson on health, education and research.

She told fellow lawmakers on Tuesday that she would work for fairer representation of women in parliament. Bas is only the third woman to head the Bundestag since its creation in 1949.

The responsibility has by far not been spread fairly on all shoulders, she said.

While the Bundestag has more female members following last month’s election, women are still a long way from reaching parity in the national legislature. More than a third, or 34.7pc, of the new lawmakers are women compared to 31.4pc in the previous parliament, according to German news agency dpa.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2021

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