For the first time since last month’s election, the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, met Tuesday and elected a new chairman from the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD). Baerbel Bas won to lead the body with 736 members.
Bas, 53, from Duisburg, west Germany, has been a member of the Bundestag since 2009. He served as deputy chairman of the parliamentary group SPD in the last parliament, as well as its spokesman for health, education and research.
After winning, given the diversity of the new parliament, Bas urged his fellow lawmakers to “reach out to many people in this country, especially those who have long felt ignored by politics.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the meeting. Since he was no longer a member of parliament, he watched from the visitor’s gallery. Merkel has served as chancellor of Germany for the past 16 years.
Also on Tuesday, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is due to formally sack Merkel and her cabinet, although they will be asked to remain there in an interim capacity until a new government is formed.
The SPD won the most seats in parliamentary elections, but failed to win a majority. The party teamed up with the environmentalist Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats to form a new government. [ka/jm]