• Germany edition
 
Parliament opens with record number of women
Photo: DPA

Parliament opens with record number of women

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

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
German aid planes to Iraq delayed
All filled up and nowhere to go. Photo: DPA

German aid planes to Iraq delayed

A German military flight to the conflict-addled region in northern Iraq has been delayed because Turkey denied landing permission for the layover at Incirlik airbase, according to a spokesman for the air force. READ  

Bomb shuts down A3 motorway
Photo: DPA

Bomb shuts down A3 motorway

A controlled detonation of a 500-kg bomb from the Second World War has left a 20-metre-wide crater in the middle of one of Germany's busiest traffic corridors on Tuesday night. READ  

Saxony schools get top marks
Photo: DPA

Saxony schools get top marks

A country-wide analysis has shown that Saxony has the best schools and Berlin has a lot of homework to do. READ  

Police free hedgehog, natural order restored
Pot luck for the Offenburg hedgehog. Photo: DPA

Police free hedgehog, natural order restored

Officers patrolling in Baden-Württemberg were confronted by a self-imprisoned hedgehog. READ  

BER capacity already 'too small' at 2016 launch
Overdue, overgrown. BER site stands idle amid delays. Photo: DPA

BER capacity already 'too small' at 2016 launch

The delay-hobbled Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) will already be overburdened when - or if - it opens in 2016 as passenger volume exceeds initial forecasts, it was reported on Tuesday. READ  

Stomach bug behind Berlin 'Ebola' scare
A doctor at the Job Centre in Berlin. Photo:DPA

Stomach bug behind Berlin 'Ebola' scare

Update: Around 600 people were held for several hours in emergency quarantine at a Berlin Job Centre on Tuesday after a West African woman collapsed with Ebola-like symptoms. READ  

Opinion
Tribes, ties and a movie: A German's Afghan life
Matthias Kock spent several years learning the Afghan ropes. Photo: Matthias Kock

Tribes, ties and a movie: A German's Afghan life

After more than 3,400 foreign troops died in Afghanistan, 54 of them German, the international community in 2014 withdraws its combat forces to end a 13-year mission. Aid worker and ex-soldier Matthias Kock reflects on lessons learned and where the country is headed. READ  

Uber drives on in Berlin
Photo: DPA

Uber drives on in Berlin

The app-driven car service is allowed to carry on operating while courts consider its appeal. READ  

German journalists arrested in Ferguson
Police in Ferguson, Missouri, US. Photo: DPA

German journalists arrested in Ferguson

"To be arrested and yelled at and be rudely treated by police I had to travel to Ferguson and St. Louis in the United States of America," writes veteran reporter of his ordeal. READ  

Wild Wilma's gusts claims two lives
Photo: DPA

Wild Wilma's gusts claims two lives

Two people died in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern on Monday in a traffic accident caused by Wilma's winds. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? 10 reasons why you should.
Photo: DPA
National
Berlin's senate puts the brakes on Über
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The mysteries of Berlin's abandoned theme park
Photo: DPA
Culture
How I deal with my German Hausmeister
Photo: Ingrid Eulenfan/flickr
Gallery
Nine German treats you'll want to eat right now (and one you won't)
Photo: DPA
Society
Who's getting German citizenship?
Photo: DPA
Culture
How World War I changed Germany forever
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Can you escape work emails on holiday?
Photo: APA/DPA
Gallery
The 12 best words in Austrian German
Photo: DPA
Society
'Look at those German shanty towns!'
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Five reasons to visit Oktoberfest (and five not to)
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
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

3,318
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd