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POLITICS

‘Younger, fewer women’: 10 things to know about the new German Bundestag

On Tuesday the new German parliament is sitting for the first time after being voted in on September 24th. A few things have changed since last time around.

'Younger, fewer women': 10 things to know about the new German Bundestag
The Reichstag building. Photo: DPA

1. Biggest ever Bundestag

The Bundestag has grown by 12 percent from 631 to 709 members. That means it's not only the biggest Bundestag ever, it is also the biggest democratic parliament in the world.

2. Double the fun

For the first time since 1957, a total of six party factions will sit in the parliament. Between 1961 and 1983 there were only three factions in the parliament – the Social Democrats (SPD), the Christian Union (CDU/CSU), and the Free Democrats (FDP). The Greens joined in 1983 and die Linke arrived after reunification. The right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) is the first new entry since 1990.

3. Happy comeback

The FDP are the first party to ever successfully make it back into the Bundestag after being knocked out. In 2013 they were punished by voters after being the unpopular junior partner to Angela Merkel's CDU in the government, and never made it over the 5 percent mark necessary to make it into the Bundestag.

But under charismatic young leader Christian Lindner they have had a revival and won 10.7 percent of the vote this time around.

Die Linke never made it over the 5 percent mark in 2002, but were still represented by two candidates who were directly voted into parliament.

Wilhelm von Gottberg, the oldest member of parliament. Photo: DPA

4. Going it alone

For the first time since 2002 there are two candidates sitting in the parliament who don't belong to a faction at its very outset. Frauke Petry and Mario Mieruch were voted in with the AfD but then left the party, saying it had strayed too far to the right. The pair will be seated at the back of the plenum, separate from the six factions.

5. Getting younger

The average age of MPs has sunk very slightly from 49.7 to 49.4 years of age. The FDP is the youngest party – their MPs are on average 45.8 years old – the AfD are the oldest at 50.7 years old.

6. A tricky rule change

Of the ten oldest MPs, eight are from the AfD. 77 year old Wilhelm von Gottberg is the oldest. In the last parliament he would have been given the symbolic role of father of the house, who gives the opening speech of the new parliament. But the rules were changed at the end of the last parliament to deny the AfD this privilege. Now the father of the house will be the longest-serving MP.

7. Longest-serving

The new father of the house will be the CDU grandee Wolfgang Schäuble, who has been in the Bundestag for 45 years. He is also set to become the Bundestag President, the equivalent of the house speaker.

8. Baby of the house

Philipp Amthor with Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

The youngest MP in the parliament will be Roman Müller-Böhm from the FDP, who is 24 years old. The youngest directly elected MP is Philipp Amthor from the CDU, who is just a month older than Müller-Böhm. He won his seat in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania at the first attempt.

9. Fewer women

With 30.7 of MPs now being women, this is the least female Bundestag since 1998. The number of women had risen continually since 1972 when there were only 6 percent women. But that sequence has now been broken, as in the last parliament 36 percent of lawmakers were women.

10. Most women in the Greens

In both the Green party and Die Linke over half of the MPs are women. The Green have the most female MPs at 58 percent. The AfD on the other hand are the most male dominated party – 11 percent of their lawmakers are women.

For members

TRANSPORT

How the Greens want to replace Germany’s €9 ticket deal

New proposals drafted by the Green Party have set out plans for two new cheap travel tickets in Germany as well as a shake-up of the country's travel zones. Here's what you need to know.

How the Greens want to replace Germany's €9 ticket deal

What’s going on?

Germany’s €9 travel deal has been hugely popular this summer, with an estimated 30 million or so passengers taking advantage of the offer in June alone. Now the last month of the three-month offer is underway, there are hopes that the ticket could be replaced by another deal that offers simple, affordable travel on a regional or national basis.

There have been a few ideas for this floating around, including a €365 annual ticket and a €69 monthly ticket pitched by German transport operators. Now the Green Party has weighed in with a concept paper setting out plans for two separate travel tickets to replace the €9 ticket. The paper was obtained by ARD Hauptstadtstudio on Friday. 

Why do they want two different tickets?

The first ticket would be a regional one costing just €29 a month and the second would be a €49 that, much like the €9 ticket, would be valid for the whole of Germany.

This would allow people who mainly stay in their local region to opt for the most cost-effective option while long-distance commuters or those who want to travel further afield could opt for the nationwide offer.

Presumably the ticket would once again be valid for local and regional transport only rather than long-distance trains like the ICE. 

To simplify the system even more, the Greens also want to introduce new travel zones for the regional monthly tickets.

READ ALSO: Has Germany’s €9 rail ticket been a success?

How would the travel zones change?

According to the paper, Germany would be divided into eight regional zones that would include the Berlin-Brandenburg area, the eastern German states of Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt and the northern states of Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania. 

The zones take passengers “statewide at a minimum”, the paper says, for example in the larger states of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and North-Rhine Westphalia.

However, as the map below shows, states will also be clustered together to make larger regions.

One of the major draws of the €9 ticket has been the flat-rate system that allows passengers to travel anywhere in the country using the same ticket. This appears to be what the Greens are trying to replicate with their proposals. 

READ ALSO: What happens to Germany’s €9 ticket at the end of August?

How would this be financed? 

As you might expect, the Green Party is placing less eco-friendly forms of transport in the crosshairs as it looks for cash to fund the cheap tickets.

The first way to free up cash would be to end tax breaks for people with company cars. In addition, taxes on CO2 emissions would be increased. 

This would result in “additional revenues for the federal government and the states, which could flow seamlessly into the financing of cheap tickets”, the paper states. 

However, the Greens don’t set out how much money they think this would bring in or how much the discounted tickets would cost the state in total. 

Is this definitely going to happen?

At the moment, it seems that the Greens are the main voices in the coalition government pushing for a longer term travel deal – and they continue to face opposition from the pro-business FDP.

Unfortunately for the Green Party, the FDP happen to be heading up two crucial ministries that could both play a role in blocking a future offer: the Finance Ministry and the Transport Ministry. 

However, with four out of five people saying they want to see a successor to the €9 ticket in autumn, Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) is currently under pressure to come up with a replacement as soon as possible. 

A passenger sits on the platform a Berlin Hauptbahnhof

A passenger sits on the platform a Berlin Hauptbahnhof waiting for a train. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Joerg Carstensen

At a press conference a few weeks ago, he promised to discuss this with the state transport ministers after analysing how successful the ticket had been.

In particular, researchers will want to look at how many people ended up leaving the car at home and taking the bus or train instead.

Though the data on this is inconclusive at the moment, some studies have shown reduced congestion on the roads while the ticket was running.

In a survey of The Local’s readers conducted last month, 80 percent of respondents said they had used public transport more with the €9 ticket and 85 percent said they wanted to see a similar deal continue in the autumn.

Of the options on the table so far, a monthly €29 ticket was by far the most popular choice.

READ ALSO: ‘Affordable and simple’: What foreigners in Germany want to see after the €9 ticket

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