Four weeks after the federal election on September 26, Germany’s newly elected parliament has held its first meeting at the Bundestag.
The lower house of the German parliament elected Bärbel Bas of the Social Democrats (SPD) as its new speaker, succeeding conservative veteran Wolfgang Schäuble.
Bas has been a member of the Bundestag since 2009 and served as the Socialists’ spokesperson on health, education, and research.
SPD, the Greens and pro-business party Free Democrats opened formal coalition talks earlier this month, but all parties have acknowledged that they face a complex task to form a government.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also attended Tuesday’s meeting despite no longer being an elected lawmaker.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will formally dismiss Merkel and her Cabinet. However, they will be asked to stay in a caretaker capacity until a new government is in place.
The new Bundestag is younger than the previous one, with the average age of MPs falling two years to 47,5. The proportion of representatives under 30 has risen from 2 to 7 percent, and the youngest member – a Green MP called Emilia Johanna Fester – is just 23 years old. Alexander Gauland of the AfD, 80 years old, is now the most senior MP in the Bundestag.
The proportion of seats occupied by women has also risen slightly compared to the previous Bundestag, from 31,5 percent to 34,8 percent. However, that is still below the quota achieved in the 18th Bundestag (2013 – 2017), in which women held 36,5 percent of seats. The Greens have the most female MPs (women make up 59 percent of Green MPs). The AfD has the fewest.