The new Bundestag has a total of 736 members. It all kicks out on Tuesday with an exceptional session filled with farewells, bills of exchange, and armbands.

Bundestag Germany
[Bundestag,Germany]

It is the most recent date available. The newly elected Bundestag must assemble for the first time no later than 30 days following the election, according to the Basic Law. The date is October 26th. For all newly elected MPs, their mandate begins on Tuesday. There have seldom been so many goodbyes and changes, with 92 MPs under the age of 35.

On the other side, Angela Merkel's (CDU) term as a member of parliament comes to an end after 31 years, while Armin Laschet (CDU) is back in parliament, although not in the way he expected. The senior president chairs the meeting at first. Since 2017, this has been the MP with the longest membership in the Bundestag, rather than the oldest (which used to be AfD parliamentary group leader Alexander Gauland). This responsibility belongs to Wolfgang Schäuble, who has served in the German Bundestag for 49 years without interruption - but it is also a farewell for the CDU politician. His last day as President of the Bundestag will be on this day.


1. With 736 MPs, how does the Bundestag cope with the corona situation?

Despite soaring corona numbers, there will be a packed house for the first time in months. "It will be an entirely different picture than before," says a Bundestag spokesman. This means that all 736 members of Parliament should be allowed to vote. Tino Chrupalla, the AfD's party and parliamentary group leader, will not be present, for example, due to a corona infection. In the plenary hall, the 3G rule will apply. Evidence of tests that are less than 24 hours old or that are performed on site must be given to the parliamentary doctor and her staff. Proof of immunization or recovery, on the other hand, is required. Then there's the access ribbon, which is black, red, and gold.

If AfD MPs refuse to give 3G verification, they must take a seat in the reserved grandstand above. Three of the Bundestag's six grandstands are allocated for members of parliament. There are also a significant number of allocated seats for MPs who do not want to sit in the packed plenary chamber for fear of illness. There are also some pregnant female politicians who wish to be extra cautious. Journalists get two additional booths, while honorary visitors such as Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and past Bundestag presidents have one.


2. How is Angela Merkel's day going?

Chancellor Merkel, like all other members of the government who are no longer members of the German Bundestag, such as Peter Altmaier, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, and Christine Lambrecht, will sit in the stands rather than on the government bench. Steinmeier will send over their discharge certificates to Merkel and her cabinet in the afternoon, but they have requested to stay in office until a new government is formed.

Their Vice Chancellor and new member of the Bundestag, Olaf Scholz, hopes to be elected Chancellor in early December. Merkel would thus fall short of Helmut Kohl's record in office by a few days. Kohl was president for 5871 days, from October 1, 1982 until October 27, 1998. Merkel would do this on December 18, and she would surpass Kohl on December 19.


3. What will Wolfgang Schäuble's successor be?

As senior president, Schäuble designates a few members as temporary secretaries before addressing the entire Bundestag by name. Following the establishment of a quorum, the President of Parliament, as well as deputies and secretaries, are chosen. As Schäuble's replacement, SPD MP Bärbel Bas will be chosen President of the Bundestag. She will be the third woman to hold the second highest state post in Germany in terms of protocol, following Annemarie Renger (SPD, 1972–76) and Rita Süssmuth (CDU, 1988–1998). She served as parliamentary managing director for the SPD parliamentary group from 2013 to 2019 and, most recently, as parliamentary deputy for health, petitions, education, and research.

While many other MPs enter parliament after completing their education and working as staff of MPs, the 53-year-old has a typical career path. He finished an apprenticeship as an office assistant after graduating from high school, followed by an apprenticeship as a social security clerk. Later, she pursued more schooling to become a health insurance business economist, a step further on the second educational route. Bas is a widower without children. The lady from the Ruhr is known in her group for being grounded, self-assured, and brave - attributes that might help her in the new post, especially when dealing with the AfD.

The people in her Duisburg constituency admire the politician: she has always won him directly since 2009. In her new position, she could rely on parliamentarism that is particularly close to the people, which is especially important at a time when many people are skeptical of politicians.


4. What are the most significant responsibilities of the President?

Bas, as chairman of the session, and her deputies, like their predecessors, must ensure that the plenary sessions operate smoothly and without partisanship. If the Bundestag wishes to neglect or restrict the Bundestag's rights, it must represent the House and parliamentarism to the outside world and, if necessary, defend it against attacks by the federal government. Bas is the beneficiary of the party accounts, oversees compliance with the legislation on party donations, and manages repayment of election campaign expenditures as the incumbent. The Bundestag administration is also in charge of deciding on possible punishments in the case of legal infractions.

Bas also takes on a mission from Schäuble that he has put a lot of effort into but has yet to see fruit: restructuring the Bundestag so that the number of members is restricted and does not continue to rise. The CSU, which has usually won a substantial number of direct mandates in Bavaria and so has to worry losing MPs, is the main opponent of downsizing.


5. Who is the most likely candidate for Vice President of the Bundestag?

The House's largest parliamentary group is not only entitled to the presidency, but also to a deputy presidency. Hamburg MP Aydan zoguz has previously been nominated by the SPD parliamentary group. With the election of the previous federal government's integration commissioner, who is Muslim and the daughter of Turkish parents, one hopes to set an example of global openness. Monika Grütters, the previous Minister of State for Culture, and Annette Widmann-Mauz, the departing integration commissioner and president of the women's union, are competing in the Union.

If the women in the parliamentary group cannot agree, a man, such as Hermann Gröhe or Hans-Peter Friedrich, might be considered. As a CSU MP, the latter is at a disadvantage because the CDU wants to grab the seat for themselves. As vice-president, Michael Grosse-Brömer, the Union's first parliamentary manager, entered the race.

Claudia Roth and Wolfgang Kubicki are anticipated to be confirmed as vice-chairs of the Greens and FDP, respectively. Petra Pau, the leader of the left-wing faction, is set to seek for a fourth term. Despite the fact that the AfD is entitled to a deputy position, none of its candidates received a majority in the last parliamentary session. Michael Kaufmann, a Thuringian MP, is the AfD's candidate this time.


6. Is there enough space for all of the MPs to have their own offices?

No, not yet. Offices must be cleared, particularly in the Union (245 MPs so far, currently 197), the Left (69/39) and marginally in the AfD (87/82), while the traffic light parties SPD (152/206), Greens (67/118) and FDP (80/92) receive much more parliamentary offices. Meeting rooms are also utilized as temporary offices by the Greens, who are increasingly reliant on "office sharing" between old and new MPs.

The Luisenblock West project, which runs between the Spree's Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus and the S-Bahn line, aims to address this. For 70 million euros, a modular structure is being constructed here. The 400 new offices, which will be built from wooden modules and ready for occupancy by the beginning of next year at the latest, will be seven storeys high and will be ready for occupancy by the beginning of next year. The addition of the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus with hundreds of extra offices was supposed to be finished years ago, but it will be well into next year owing to building faults and design flaws. At the very least. To begin with, all new members of the Bundestag (MdB) are given a laptop and e-mail accounts.

However, MPs have many offices for themselves and their workers depending on their position and responsibility, so having 736 instead of 709 MPs does not guarantee that 27 more offices are sufficient. Every Bundestag member receives a monthly flat-rate employee stipend of 22,795 euros. That's generally enough for four to five full-time jobs, but without an office, there's something for everyone to start with.

The taxpayers' group predicts that the new Bundestag with 736 representatives would incur additional expenditures of at least 410 million euros in this electoral term through 2025, compared to the usual size of 598 members, and advocates for a complete electoral reform.


7. Is there a possibility of a revised seating arrangement?

The FDP no longer wants to sit next to the AfD, but the CDU / CSU change is about more than symbolic. The FDP parliamentary party wants to make it obvious that it regards itself as a center-right and stable force, so it's changing the seating arrangement that's been in place for decades thanks to a council of elders decision. On the right, the AfD would sit, followed by the CDU/CSU MPs. The FDP MPs would be in the center, with the Greens and SPD's potential traffic light partners. The left would sit as usual on the far left.

The SPD and the Greens, the two traffic light parties, are still keeping a low profile, whilst the Left, on the other hand, has already openly backed the FDP's proposal. There might be a majority, unlike in 2017, when the group wanted to trade with the Union. However, the prior seating arrangement is maintained in the constituent meeting. Lindner's tactic of contesting the Union's historic role as the center party is shown by the swap request. If he labeled the traffic light exploratory study a tight left path, Union parliamentary group leader Ralph Brinkhaus implied lately that he wished to urge the Union to pursue a tight right route.
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