President of the Bundestag

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President of the Bundestag
Deutscher Bundestag logo.svg
WSchaeuble.jpg
Incumbent
Wolfgang Schäuble

since 24 October 2017
Presidium of the Bundestag
StyleMr. President
(when addressed in the Bundestag)
StatusPresiding officer
SeatReichstag building, Berlin
NominatorPolitical parties
AppointerBundestag
traditionally appointing nominee of the largest party
Term lengthContemporaneous to legislative period
Constituting instrumentGerman Basic Law
Formation7 September 1949
First holderErich Köhler
DeputyVice Presidents of the Bundestag
Websitewww.bundestag.de
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The President of the Bundestag (German: Präsident des Deutschen Bundestages or Bundestagspräsident) presides over the sessions of the Bundestag, the federal parliament of Germany, with functions similar to that of a speaker in other countries. In the German order of precedence, his office is ranked second after the President and before the Chancellor. The 13th and current President of the Bundestag is Wolfgang Schäuble, since October 24, 2017.

Election and customs[edit]

The President of the Bundestag is elected during the constituent session of each election period after the Federal elections or in a later session, if the office has fallen vacant, by all members of the Bundestag. The president has to be a member of the Bundestag. Until the election of the president, the session is chaired by the Father of the House, the so-called Alterspräsident, the longest serving member of the Bundestag (since 2017, 1949-2017 the oldest member of the Bundestag by age).[1]

Usually, the President of the Bundestag is a member of the largest parliamentary group. This custom had emerged already in times of the Weimar Republic, but this is not required by law. The term ends with the election period, and there is no provision for an early removal. The term of the President can only end prematurely if he or she resigns the position, leaves the Bundestag or dies. He can be reelected in the next election period provided he becomes a member of the Bundestag again.

Traditionally, the President of the Bundestag is elected uncontested. The only exception so far has been in 1954 after the unexpected death of Hermann Ehlers. Ernst Lemmer competed with the "official" CDU/CSU candidate, Eugen Gerstenmaier, and lost after three ballots with a difference of 14 votes (204 for Gerstenmaier, 190 for Lemmer, 15 abstentions).

Vice Presidents[edit]

The President of the Bundestag has several deputies, the Vice Presidents of the Bundestag (German: Vizepräsident des Deutschen Bundestages or Bundestagsvizepräsident), who are supplied by the other parliamentary groups. The number of vice presidents was not fixed in the Bundestag's Geschäftsordnung (rules of order) until 1994, when it was decided that each parliamentary group should be represented by at least one vice president.[1]

As of June 2018, the current Vice Presidents of the Bundestag are:[2]

Legal background[edit]

The legal foundation for the office is Article 40 of the Basic Law which states that the Bundestag elects a president and his vice presidents and is to give itself rules of order. Due to a 1952 Federal Constitutional Court decision, the Geschäftsordnung has to be enacted afresh in every election period, but usually the old rules are reenacted without change.[3] The Geschäftsordnung regulates the duties of the President of the Bundestag and his vice presidents as well as their number.

Duties[edit]

The president's most important duty is to chair the sessions of the Bundestag. He determines the order of speakers and opens and closes the debates, and ensures that debates take place in an orderly fashion.[4] In the case of grave disruption, he may exclude a member of parliament for up to 30 session days.[5] All draft legislation initiated by the Federal Government, the Bundestag or the Bundesrat is addressed to him as well as all submissions and petitions from within or addressed to the Bundestag. The President of the Bundestag also chairs the Council of Elders, which manages the internal affairs of the Bundestag.[6] For the election of a new Federal President, the President of the Bundestag convenes and chairs the Bundesversammlung.[7]

Additionally, he receives the statements of account of the political parties, monitors party financing and regulates campaign cost reimbursement. The president also has police power over the premises of the parliament and oversees its police force, can veto any search and seizure there to protect the independence of the parliament,[8] and acts as the employer of the Bundestag's public servants.

List of presidents[edit]

Political Party

  CDU   SPD

No. Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of Office Political Party
Took Office Left Office
1 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F046123-0023, Bonn, Wahl zum 1. Bundestagspräsidenten.jpg Erich Köhler
(1892–1958)
7 September 1949 18 October 1950 CDU
2 Hermann Ehlers Relief.jpg Hermann Ehlers
(1904–1954)
19 October 1950 29 October 1954 CDU
3 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F007686-0002, Bonn, Ordensverleihung an Dr. Eugen Gerstenmaier.png Eugen Gerstenmaier
(1906–1986)
16 November 1954 31 January 1969 CDU
4 Kai-Uwe von Hassel 1963.jpg Kai-Uwe von Hassel
(1913–1997)
5 February 1969 13 December 1972 CDU
5 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F039421-0028, Hannover, SPD-Bundesparteitag, Renger.jpg Annemarie Renger
(1919–2008)
13 December 1972 14 December 1976 SPD
6 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F054633-0020, Ludwigshafen, CDU-Bundesparteitag, Carstens (cropped).jpg Karl Carstens
(1914–1992)
14 December 1976 31 May 1979 CDU
7 KAS-Stücklen, Richard-Bild-630-1.jpg Richard Stücklen
(1916–2002)
31 May 1979 29 March 1983 CSU
8 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F029561-0005, Essen, CDU-Bundestagswahlkongress, Barzel.jpg Rainer Barzel
(1924–2006)
29 March 1983 25 October 1984 CDU
9 Bundesarchiv B 145a Bild-F075257-0015, Bonn Philipp Jenninger cropped.jpg Philipp Jenninger
(1932–2018)
5 November 1984 11 November 1988 CDU
10 Rita-Suessmuth.jpg Rita Süssmuth
(born 1937)
25 November 1988 26 October 1998 CDU
11 Festakt Freiheitspreis 5-10-05 017.JPG Wolfgang Thierse
(born 1943)
26 October 1998 18 October 2005 SPD
12 Lammert, Norbert-0829.jpg Norbert Lammert
(born 1948)
18 October 2005 24 October 2017 CDU
13 4th EPP St Géry Dialogue; Jan. 2014 (12189287345) (cropped).jpg Wolfgang Schäuble
(born 1942)
24 October 2017 CDU

Presidium of the Bundestag[edit]

The Presidium of the German Bundestag consists of the President of the Bundestag and a variable number (currently 6) of Vice-Presidents of the Bundestag.

The president is elected by all members of the Bundestag during its first meeting; he almost always comes from the largest Fraktion in the Bundestag (tradition has made this a sort of unwritten law). His administration ends with the end of a legislature; he can, however, be re-elected, as long as he is also re-elected to the Bundestag.

In 1994 it was decided that every Fraktion in the Bundestag should be represented by a Vice President.

The most important role of the president is the direction of the Bundestag sittings. To demonstrate the importance of the parliament in Germany's democracy, the parliament's president receives a higher salary than the Chancellor and the Federal President.

Books[edit]

Michael F. Feldkamp (ed.), Der Bundestagspräsident. Amt - Funktion - Person. 16. Wahlperiode, München 2007, ISBN 978-3-7892-8201-0

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Deutscher Bundestag, The Bundestag's constituent sitting Archived 2006-12-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "German Bundestag: The Presidium". German Bundestag. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
  3. ^ (in German) Deutscher Bundestag, Erläuterungen zur Geschäftsordnung Archived 2007-05-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Deutscher Bundestag, Debates Archived 2006-12-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Deutscher Bundestag, President and Vice-Presidents Archived 2006-10-03 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Deutscher Bundestag, Council of Elders Archived 2005-05-05 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Deutscher Bundestag, The Federal Convention Archived 2006-08-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ (in German) Deutscher Bundestag, Gesetzliche Grundlage Archived 2007-05-27 at the Wayback Machine. für die Polizei beim Bundestag