Not My Honorary President
Six months before Germany’s general election, with both main parties neck-and-neck, it’s hard to predict the winner – and a lot easier to work out who will be the oldest member of the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament.
Bundestag speaker Norbert Lammert just ran those predictions and didn’t like what he saw. The oldest lawmaker is given the honorary title of “Senior President” and leads the first session of a new parliament, among other duties. There are fears that this role could fall into the hands of a right wing populist.
To Mr. Lammert’s alarm, Wilhelm von Gottberg, a 77-year-old far-right politician running for the populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) is poised to become the next senior president. If Mr. von Gottberg, an infamous Holocaust denier, is not elected, the most likely “Father of the House” would be Alexander Gauland, 76, another AfD politician.
To prevent this, Mr. Lammert suggests the longest-serving lawmaker should take the role instead. “That would ensure the first session of the newly-elected Bundestag will be led by a parliamentarian with sufficient, relevant experience,” he said in a parliamentary press release.
Picture source: Michael Kappeler/DPA.