Germany’s Parliament elects Baerbel Bas new Speaker

Berlin: Germany’s newly elected Parliament held its first meeting on last Tuesday and elected a lawmaker from the centre-left Social Democratic Party as speaker of the 736-member Lower House, or Bundestag.

The new Speaker, Baerbel, Bas, has been a member of the Bundestag since 2009. Ms. Bas emphasised that even though Parliament does not yet reflect the full diversity of German society, the new Bundestag has become more diverse, with more immigrant lawmakers and younger members, too.

The outgoing speaker Mr. Wolfgang Schaeuble said that “The citizens are looking to us, and their expectations of Parliament are rightly high, we all should continue to do everything we can to meet their expectations.”

Mr. Schaeuble, 79, a conservative veteran and former Finance and Interior Minister, is the longest-serving member of Parliament. He has been a lawmaker since 1972.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the session although she is no longer a lawmaker. She sat in the visitor stands of Parliament. Ms. Merkel’s Union bloc finished behind the Social Democrats in Germany’s federal election last month. She told fellow lawmakers on Tuesday that she would work for fairer representation of women in Parliament. Ms. Bas is only the third woman to head the Bundestag since its creation in 1949. “The responsibility has by far not been spread fairly on all shoulders,” she said.

While the Bundestag has more women members following last month’s election, women are still a long way from reaching parity in the national legislature. More than a third, or 34.7%, of the new lawmakers are women compared with the 31.4% in the previous parliament, according to German news agency dpa.