President of the Bundestag
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The President of the Bundestag (German: Präsident des Deutschen Bundestages or Bundestagspräsident) presides over the sessions of the Bundestag, the 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 current President of the Bundestag is Norbert Lammert, since October 18, 2005.
Election and customs
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 oldest member of the Bundestag.
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 deposition, the Presidents term can only end prematurely, if he or she resigns, 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, and 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).
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 one vice president. After the 2005 election, the CDU/CSU and SPD changed the rules of order to grant a second vice presidential post to the SPD, increasing the total number of Vice Presidents of the 16th Bundestag to six. This move was opposed by the other parties. In 2009 there were 5 Vice Presidents and in 2013 6 once again.
As of October 2013, the current Vice Presidents of the Bundestag are:
- Peter Hintze (CDU)
- Johannes Singhammer (CSU)
- Edelgard Bulmahn (SPD)
- Claudia Roth (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen)
- Petra Pau (Die Linke)
- Ulla Schmidt (SPD)
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. The Geschäftsordnung regulates the duties of the President of the Bundestag and his vice presidents as well as their number.
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. In the case of grave disruption, he may exclude a member of parliament for up to 30 session days. 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. For the election of a new Federal President, the President of the Bundestag convenes and chairs the Bundesversammlung.
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, and acts as the employer of the Bundestag's public servants.
List of presidents
- Political Party
|Term of Office||Political Party|
|Took Office||Left Office|
|7 September 1949||18 October 1950||CDU|
|19 October 1950||29 October 1954||CDU|
|16 November 1954||31 January 1969||CDU|
|4||Kai-Uwe von Hassel
|5 February 1969||13 December 1972||CDU|
|13 December 1972||14 December 1976||SPD|
|14 December 1976||31 May 1979||CDU|
|31 May 1979||29 March 1983||CSU|
|29 March 1983||25 October 1984||CDU|
|5 November 1984||11 November 1988||CDU|
|25 November 1988||26 October 1998||CDU|
|26 October 1998||18 October 2005||SPD|
|18 October 2005||CDU|
Presidium 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.
- Deutscher Bundestag, The Bundestag's constituent sitting
- "German Bundestag: The Presidium". German Bundestag. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
- (German) Deutscher Bundestag, Erläuterungen zur Geschäftsordnung
- Deutscher Bundestag, Debates
- Deutscher Bundestag, President and Vice-Presidents
- Deutscher Bundestag, Council of Elders
- Deutscher Bundestag, The Federal Convention
- (German) Deutscher Bundestag, Gesetzliche Grundlage für die Polizei beim Bundestag