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Germany’s newly elected Bundestag meets for first time since election

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Germany”s newly elected parliament has held its first meeting at the Bundestag following September’s election.

The lower house of the German parliament elected Bärbel Bas of the Social Democrats (SPD) as its new speaker, succeeding conservative veteran Wolfgang Schäuble.

Bas has been a member of the Bundestag since 2009 and served as the Socialists’ spokesperson on health, education, and research.

The SPD emerged as the strongest party in last month’s election and are hoping to form a new government in December.

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SPD, the Greens and pro-business party Free Democrats opened formal coalition talks earlier this month, but all parties have acknowledged that they face a complex task to form a government.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also attended Tuesday’s meeting despite no longer being an elected lawmaker.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will formally dismiss Merkel and her Cabinet, though they will be asked to stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new government is in place.

Socialist leader and current vice-chancellor Olaf Scholz is tipped to replace Merkel and send the centre-right Union bloc into opposition after 16 years.

All 736 new MPs were present as Germany held a formal constitutive session to open its 20th Bundestag. They included Germany’s first black female MP, Awet Tesfaiesus, from the Greens.

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“Germany needs a self-confident parliament, and it needs self-confident parliamentarians,” Schäuble told the Bundestag on Tuesday.

The 79-year-old politician, who has previously served as finance and interior minister, is the longest-serving member of parliament.

Lawmakers will also discuss the COVID-19 pandemic amid a surge in new infections across European countries.

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