Certificate of discharge for Merkel: End of a chancellorship

Et is a routine process and yet the complete opposite of it. Frank-Walter Steinmeier dismisses Angela Merkel late on Tuesday afternoon. This is what the constitution provides. When the new Bundestag meets for its constituent session – no later than 30 days after a Bundestag election – the term of office of the Chancellor and Cabinet formally ends. The Federal President then asks the members of the government to continue their work until a new government is in office. Four years ago it took almost six months, then Merkel was re-elected.

But this time everything is different. Although the coalition negotiations between the SPD, Greens and FDP have only just begun, Merkel could be re-elected without a mandate from the Bundestag. But that’s pure theory. And that’s why Steinmeier says goodbye. What sets today’s formal dismissal of the federal government apart more than anything else from previous ones is “the end of a chancellorship that can be counted among the great ones in the history of this republic,” says Steinmeier Merkel on her way into political retirement.

“For you, dear Chancellor, dear Angela Merkel, 16 years of government are ending. Even if, as we know, this was not an unprecedented long term in office, these years were exemplary, ”says Steinmeier. Then he tells an anecdote, not new, but fitting. When an eleven-year-old child asks whether a man could also become Chancellor, “then it shows a new matter of course that did not exist before the first woman in the Chancellery, and the great respect you have in our country and in the World have acquired ”.

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the former President of the Bundestag Rita Süssmuth on Tuesday in the stands in the Bundestag


Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the former President of the Bundestag Rita Süssmuth on Tuesday in the stands in the Bundestag
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Photo: Jens Gyarmaty

Merkel and Steinmeier spend the morning together. The Bundestag will meet on Tuesday, 30 days after the Bundestag election, at 11 a.m. for its constituent session. Merkel is no longer a member of the new parliament, she is sitting in the stands above the plenum as soon to be a former head of government.

On her left the former President of the Bundestag Rita Süssmuth, on her right Steinmeier. Behind her is a confidante who has been by her side from her early days to the present day: Economics Minister Peter Altmaier. He, too, will no longer be a member of the Bundestag, would like to have it, but like Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is making room for younger party friends who otherwise would not have made it because of the poor result of the CDU.

576 yes-votes for Bärbel Bas

Ingeborg Schäuble, the wife of the President of the Bundestag, sits right next to Merkel. For Wolfgang Schäuble, too, who has been a member of the Bundestag since 1972 and therefore longer than anyone else, at least the great political era is coming to an end. He will remain a Member of Parliament, but as President of Parliament it will be his last official act on Tuesday.

His party, the CDU, has lost the election, is no longer the largest parliamentary group, and so all that remains is for him to elect his social democratic successor, Bärbel Bas, according to parliamentary rules. It is elected with 576 votes, with 369 it would have already had the required majority. 90 parliamentarians vote no, 58 abstain.

In all likelihood, Schäuble will give his last speech in a top political office, and next year he will celebrate his 80th birthday. He talks about the possibilities and limits of parliament and is disappointed that a fundamental reform that prevents the Bundestag from becoming ever larger has not been successful.

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