• Germany's news in English
 

Parliament opens with record number of women

Published: 22 Oct 2013 14:04 GMT+02:00

The first Bundestag session since the September 22nd vote was largely ceremonial as Merkel was confirmed as head of a caretaker government while she hammers out a coalition deal with the defeated Social Democrats (SPD).

Those talks kick off Wednesday after Merkel's conservatives and the centre-left party last week formally committed themselves to seeking a "grand coalition" government, a process of political haggling that could drag on for many weeks.

Officially Merkel and her outgoing government were to be discharged from their posts later Tuesday by President Joachim Gauck, even though they will keep ruling until her Christian Democrats (CDU) find partners for a new governing majority.

In an unusual twist, cabinet ministers from Merkel's former allies the pro-business Free Democrats were to stay on in their posts for now but had to sit in the visitors' gallery Tuesday after their party crashed out of parliament in the election.

As the new 631-member lower house of parliament gathered under the huge glass dome of the Reichstag building in Berlin, about one-third of the legislators were newcomers.

The new parliament, the 18th in post-war Germany, has a record number of women, at 36 percent, and of legislators with migrant backgrounds, at 5.9 percent, a ratio that is however only one-third of the nationwide statistic.

One new face that drew much attention was that of former wrestling bad guy Matthias Ilgen, 29, who has swapped the black cape and fake sword he wore in the ring for suit and tie to do battle on the floor of parliament for the SPD.

Another professional entertainer turned political pro is Charles M. Huber, 56, who long played a cop in the popular German TV series Der Alte and has now entered parliament for the CDU.

The son of a German woman and a Senegalese diplomat told the Tageszeitung newspaper that he picked a Harley-Davidson motorcycle as his official vehicle, which he however said he does not plan to ride to work until the summer.

Another newcomer was Germany's first African-born national legislator, the SPD's Karamba Diaby, 51, a trained chemist who also hails from Senegal and who represents Halle, a district in the formerly communist east.

While the first session of parliament was a celebration of democracy, featuring lengthy speeches and a rare rendition of the national anthem, some legislators voiced concern about the looming power balance.

If Merkel's “grand coalition” talks lead to the expected left-right alliance ruling Europe's biggest economy, the government benches would dwarf those of the opposition, which controls only about 20 percent of seats.

The smaller Greens and far-left Linke party have warned that this will deprive them of key control mechanisms, such as the right to demand parliamentary inquiries, for which they would need 25 percent of votes.

Gregor Gysi, head of the Linke, said on Berlin radio that without an effective parliamentary opposition "we give up on a key component of democracy".

READ MORE: Liberal politicians continue to be paid despite losing jobs

AFP/tsb

Follow us on Twitter @thelocalgermany

Like The Local Germany on Facebook

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Poland bridles at German minimum wage
Photo: DPA

Poland bridles at German minimum wage

Germany's newly-introduced €8.50 minimum wage is raising hackles at Polish trucking companies, who say they shouldn't have to pay their drivers at that rate for the hours they spend on their western neighbour's roads. READ  

Life sentences meted out in murder-for-hire
A man photographs an appeal for witnesses in the death of Christin R. in 2012. Photo: DPA

Life sentences meted out in murder-for-hire

A Berlin judge on Thursday sentenced four people to life sentences in a sordid conspiracy murder case in which a pizza delivery driver was paid €500 to kill a young woman for her life insurance. READ  

Jobless numbers rise to top 3 million
Men at work. Photo: DPA

Jobless numbers rise to top 3 million

German jobless numbers rose this month, bringing unemployment up to seven percent, the Federal Labour Agency (BA) reported on Thursday. READ  

Frankfurt man loses airport job over Isis links
Security checks at Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

Frankfurt man loses airport job over Isis links

In a decision announced on Wednesday, a Frankfurt court upheld the dismissal of a man from his job at Frankfurt airport over his close friendship with a foreign citizen with ties to terrorist group Isis. READ  

Cologne Karneval scraps Charlie Hebdo float
Image courtesy Festkomittee Kölner Karneval

Cologne Karneval scraps Charlie Hebdo float

Cologne's planned Charlie Hebdo float in its Rosenmontag parade was a false start, after the organising committee scrapped its construction over security concerns. READ  

Overnight raids bust up smugglers ring
File photo: DPA

Overnight raids bust up smugglers ring

Federal police arrested 12 people on Wednesday night after a national raid by police broke apart a smuggling ring. READ  

Anti-euro AfD split over Pegida ties
Former Pegida spokesperson Kathrin Oertel and Brandenburg head of AfD Alexander Gauland. Photo: DPA

Anti-euro AfD split over Pegida ties

Germany's upstart anti-euro AfD party will seek to mend a rift among members on whether to forge close ties with an emergent "anti-Islamisation" movement at a congress this weekend. READ  

Court grants kids right to know donor fathers
Photo: DPA

Court grants kids right to know donor fathers

The Supreme Court (BGH) decided on Wednesday that the children of sperm donors have a right to know who their biological father is at any time. READ  

Russia may declare 1990 reunification illegal
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: DPA

Russia may declare 1990 reunification illegal

More than 25 years after the Berlin Wall's fall, Russian lawmakers are mulling a proposal to condemn West Germany's 1990 "annexation" of East Germany as Moscow's answer to Western denunciation of its seizure of Crimea. READ  

No room for scooters on the bus: Court
Photo: DPA

No room for scooters on the bus: Court

A court in North-Rhine Westphalia found on Wednesday that there is no obligation for buses or trains to make room for mobility scooters - and that it's actually dangerous to bring them aboard. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
The rise and spread of Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Photo: DPA
Politics
The Local's report from Pegida's largest ever demonstration.
Sponsored Article
Top-notch tech boosts bilingual schools
National
Six stories that will rock Germany this year
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Photo: DPA
National
What were your favourite news stories of 2014?
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,451
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd