German Parliament gets new head

Berlin, Oct 24 : The German Parliament elected a veteran centre-right politician as its President on Tuesday at a time when the chamber included a far-right party among its ranks for the first time in decades.

Wolfgang Schauble has been a member of parliament with the Christian Democratic Union since 1972 and a minister for 12 years, most recently as Finance Minister.

He was voted in with the backing of 501 lawmakers, while 173 cast their ballots against him, 30 abstained and one vote was annulled, Efe news agency reported.

“I am happy to have this new task,” Schauble said. “The heart of democracy beats in Parliament,” he added, describing himself as “a passionate lawmaker.”

He called on all members of parliament to carry out the necessary democratic battles within the rules accepted by all.

The new Bundestag, following the September 24 elections, has six parliamentary groups, of which the largest is the CDU, the party of Schauble and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Alternative for Germany (AfD) won 92 seats in the vote, meaning the far-right was represented in Parliament for the first time in decades.

According to Electoral Commission data, this is the largest Parliament to date, with 709 members who have an average age of 49.4 years, of which 30.7 per cent are women.

A deal is yet to be struck between conservatives, liberals and greens to form a coalition led by Merkel, though talks between them are expected later on Tuesday.

The parties’ very different approaches to issues like migration, European integration and energy means negotiations are expected to extend to the end of the year.

/IANS

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