BERLIN (AP) – Germany’s newly elected parliament is due to hold its first meeting on Tuesday. The 736-member Lower House, or Bundestag, is expected to elect its new president Baerbel Bas from the center-left Social Democrats, who emerged from last month’s elections as the most powerful party.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will attend the meeting although she is no longer a Member of Parliament. She will be seated on the visitors’ stands of the parliament. Later in the afternoon, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will formally sack Merkel and her cabinet, although they are asked to remain on an interim basis until a new government is in place.
The three parties that hope to form Germany’s new government said last week that they intended to have the country’s next chancellor in place in early December, but admitted they faced a complex task.
Social Democrats, Green Environmentalists and pro-business Free Democrats opened formal coalition talks following a preliminary deal earlier this month, which set their priorities but left many questions open.
The German coalition talks are a complex affair, producing an agreement that sets out the details of the government’s program for its four-year term. They have tended to lengthen over the years as the country’s political landscape has fragmented, meaning elections rarely produce parliamentary majorities for traditional allies.
If negotiations are successful, the new government will send Merkel’s center-right Union bloc into opposition after 16 years at the helm. His successor will be Olaf Scholz, who propelled the Social Democrats to a narrow electoral victory on September 26. He is the vice-chancellor and finance minister of the current government.