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Merkel receives dismissal certificate; Baerbel Bas elected Bundestag president as German parliament returns

Baerbel Bas, a member of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), will be the new president of the German parliament, after being elected to the position by her fellow members of the Bundestag.

Berlin, 27 October 2021 (dpa/MIA) — Baerbel Bas, a member of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), will be the new president of the German parliament, after being elected to the position by her fellow members of the Bundestag.

Bas received a broad majority in the first constituent session of the new parliament on Tuesday, with 576 out of 724 lawmakers voting for her.

The Bundestag president is one of the highest-ranking offices in the state.

The office is usually filled by a member of the Bundestag’s largest parliamentary group, which, after September’s elections, now is the SPD. Bas is only the third woman to have the job.

The 53-year-old has been the SPD’s parliamentary group vice president since 2019.

“Let us reach out to many people, reach out to the citizens in our country, especially those who have not felt addressed by politics for a long time. People to whom ‘politics’ has become foreign,” Bas told lawmakers.

But Bas was not the only senior official to boost female representation in the Bundestag’s presidium this legislative period.

Several of the vice presidencies, which each parliamentary group is entitled to, were also to be filled by women.

For the Greens, long-time Bundestag vice president Claudia Roth was re-elected on Tuesday, as was Petra Pau of the hard left Die Linke.

The conservative CDU/CSU bloc elected the chairperson of the women’s group in the CDU/CSU parliamentary party, Yvonne Magwas. The SPD’s vice president candidate was the former integration commissioner, Aydan Ozoguz.

The convening of the new Bundestag officially ends the government’s term of office.

However, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier requested that Chancellor Angela Merkel and her ministers continue in office in a caretaker capacity until their successors are appointed.

The German president acknowledged Merkel’s long service to the country on Tuesday. Her 16-year chancellorship could be counted “among the great ones in the history of this republic.”

Merkel’s leadership during crises affecting both Germany and the EU provided security and steadfastness, said Steinmeier, praising Merkel’s “role of mediator at the center of Europe.”

The three parties hoping to form Germany’s next coalition government — the SPD, the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) — are aiming to have a new administration in place in December, with the SPD’s Olaf Scholz as chancellor.

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