Bundestag President Bas wants to tax wealth more heavily

Madam President of the Bundestag, you recently said that politicians need “clearer, more understandable language”. What do you mean by that, Madam President?

People have to understand us when we hold debates here in the Bundestag, regardless of whether they are well educated or not. After all, these are important decisions that affect everyone.

In interviews you often talk about your origins, that you didn’t grow up in a wealthy environment. Does that make you speak clearly?

My life and my origins have shaped me. And of course my homeland, the Ruhr area. In Duisburg, people don’t talk around it for long, sometimes they discuss things a little harder. That’s how I grew up, that’s still how I am today, and I don’t want to lose that either.

How big is the risk that you will still lose it, also because the President of the Bundestag no longer lives and thinks like most citizens? You have a large office here in the Reichstag, cars that drive you, you meet influential people.

Despite the many appointments in Berlin, I try to go to Duisburg as often as possible to stay in contact with the people there. I am often asked by them why the language of politics is often so complicated. My answer then is: as MEPs, we too are forced to specialize in certain specialist areas. Therefore, there is a great danger that we will get used to a technical language, often with abbreviations, that no one in the visitors’ gallery or on the screen understands.

Would you recommend a course in understandable language to MEPs?

Everyone should speak as he or she sees fit. Certainly origin and education play a role. I just recommend being careful who you talk to and how. I have learned in my professional life that it is ultimately a question of addressing a target group. A lecture at the university is different from a conversation in a school class with fourteen year olds.

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