“The behavior of the President of the Bundestag is highly irritating” – Politics

“The behavior of the President of the Bundestag is highly irritating” – Politics

It was a promise. And Baerbel Bas gave it in her first speech as President of the Bundestag. “I will be the president of all MPs,” said the social democrat. She will therefore use all her strength to lead the Bundestag in a non-partisan manner. That was in October 2021. And that’s how Bas has done it so far. But now there is dissatisfaction with the President of the Bundestag in the Union faction.

Norbert Lammert and Wolfgang Schäuble (both CDU) – the predecessors of Bärbel Bas – had, if they felt it necessary, also opposed their own faction. Lammert, for example, gave the floor to MPs who did not want to let their own faction leadership speak. “If everyone speaks who has an opinion that differs from that of the parliamentary group, the system collapses,” said Volker Kauder, leader of the Union parliamentary group at the time, about Lammert’s actions. As Pope Benedict XVI. visited the Bundestag, Kauder etched with a view to Lammert that there are now two infallible people in the plenary hall. Schäuble, on the other hand, did not agree to the grand coalition’s electoral law reform to downsize the Bundestag, because he considered them inadequate. He was right: in the 2021 federal election, the parliament got bigger instead of smaller.

Last Friday, the Bundestag now voted for another electoral reform. And like the grand coalition in October 2020, the traffic light coalition pushed through the reform despite significant protests against all opposition factions. Unlike Schäuble 2020, Bas did not abstain, but voted yes. First of all, that is your right. Bas says that she is convinced of the reform – and that the presidents of the Bundestag will not become politically neutral with their election. But the circumstances surrounding the vote are now outraging the Union.

“The behavior and the understanding of the office of the President of the Bundestag is highly irritating,” says Thorsten Frei, the first parliamentary manager of the Union faction Süddeutsche Zeitung. First, Bas “tacitly allowed the traffic light coalition to push through an electoral reform, with the opposition vociferously protesting, which will certainly end up before the Federal Constitutional Court.” Here “her mediating role would have been really in demand”. And then “not even 24 hours after the election law was passed, they put proposals for further reforms on the table, which have already been rejected twice by the state constitutional courts.” Bas’ recommendations “do not show respect for our constitution”. Therefore, the Union faction will “neither shake hands in the electoral law commission nor in the Bundestag”.

“These are burning issues for many young people and many women”

Thorsten Frei and his faction are angry about an interview that Bas gave to the Funke media group. In it she had called for a parity law. “We have to find a constitutional way of achieving at least a 50:50 split between the parties when nominating candidates – this will be the second exciting debate on electoral law in this parliamentary term,” Bas said.

The Union rejects a parity law. There is also resistance in the traffic light coalition, the FDP also does not believe in such a legal requirement to increase the proportion of women in parliament. In Brandenburg and Thuringia, the state parliaments have passed parity laws, but these have been overturned by the state constitutional courts.

It was already shown last Monday that things are not going well between Bas and the Union. CDU General Secretary Mario Czaja pointed out that without the new traffic light electoral law, the number of Bundestag constituencies would have had to be reduced from 299 to 280, and that Bas’s constituency would have been dissolved. “A rogue who thinks evil of it,” said Czaja.

But how does Bas react to the allegations? “Nobody can be seriously surprised” by the traffic light coalition’s electoral law reform, the Bundestag President told SZ. The proposal had “been on the table for months”, the electoral law commission and the interior committee had “discussed it extensively”. It was clear “that this proposal would affect the first vote and subsequently also the existence of the basic mandate clause,” says the Bundestag President. For them now applies: “After the reform is before the reform!” The topics of parity, the voting age and the length of the electoral period are currently on the agenda of the electoral law commission – and “these topics are burning under the nails of many young people and many women”. Her personal wish is therefore “to put together another package on electoral rights in this electoral term”.

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