Berlin (dpa) – The German Bundestag has more than 700 members, making it one of the largest parliaments in the world. After the 2017 elections, about a third of new parliamentarians joined the party, and the rest had previously sat in Berlin’s Reichstag building.
Depending on the election results, new faces will also be seen this autumn. Some of the previous elected officials have already announced that they will leave parliament and take other paths in the future. Here’s an overview of perhaps the most well-known dropouts:
Her departure marks a turning point in federal politics, after 16 years of Chancellor Angela Merkel turning her back on her day-to-day business. She was born in Hamburg in 1954 and grew up in the GDR. The doctor of physics entered politics during the upheaval of the GDR in 1989/1990. She has been a member of the Bundestag since 1990 and shortly after, Chancellor Helmut Kohl brought her to the federal cabinet – first as Minister for Women’s Affairs, then as Minister for the Environment until the Union was defeated in 1998. After breaking up with Kohl in the CDU donation affair, she moved to the top of the party. Merkel entered the Chancellery in 2005. Major decisions were made during her tenure, such as phasing out nuclear energy, suspending military service and phasing out coal. But above all, her chancellor years were marked by crises. Merkel guided the country through the global financial and euro crisis and polarized with her welcome policy in the refugee crisis of 2015. The last phase of her chancellorship was then dominated by the corona virus.
The Rhinelander, who started his professional life as a bookseller and has been a member of the SPD since 1974, reached top positions at all political levels – from the mayor’s office in his native Würselen to the President of the European Parliament (2012-2017) – but failed as a candidate for chancellor in 2017. The SPD achieved its worst result in post-war history. After serving as federal party leader for nearly a year, Schulz, who was inaugurated with 100 percent of the deputy’s vote, announced his resignation in February 2018. The 65-year-old is president of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. In his farewell speech in the Bundestag, of which he has been a member since 2017, Schulz said he would continue to campaign “for a clear stand against the law, for a just society, for diversity, for respect and tolerance and above all, for a strong, peaceful society, social and democratic Europe ».
Hermann Otto Solms
The FDP politician is the age chairman of the current legislature. The honorary chairman of his party belonged to the Bundestag from 1980 to 2013 via the Giessen constituency. The 80-year-old joined the FDP in 1971. After four years of extra-parliamentary opposition from the liberals, the mustache and financial expert returned to parliament in Berlin in 2017. From 1985 to 1991 he was Vice-Chairman of the Group and from 1991 to 1998 Chairman of the Group. From 1998 to 2013, Solms, from Lich in Central Hesse, was Vice President of the Bundestag. For the 2009 Bundestag elections, Solms and his fellow party member Otto Fricke produced the popular internet series ‘Fricke & Solms’, thus being one step ahead of even younger politicians on the internet.
With Ulla Schmidt, born in Aachen, an SPD veteran leaves the Bundestag. The daughter of a lone factory worker reached the pinnacle of her career when then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) appointed her health minister in his cabinet in 2001. There she remained until 2009 in various coalitions and departments. From 2013 to 2017, the former special education teacher was vice president of the German Bundestag. Schmidt sees her wealth of experience in the Bundestag as an advantage. “But 31 years is more than enough. Now younger people have to decide in parliament,” said the 72-year-old dpa. But she wants to run again for the federal presidency of Lebenshilfe, to continue to lead the supervisory board of the Aachen hospice and to remain socially involved.
Thomas de Maiziere
The former federal minister of the CDU is no longer a candidate for parliament after twelve years. “I’m 67 now and I’ve been there long enough that older people have to make way for younger people, especially in such a crisis,” he told the dpa. Born in Bonn, he started as a speechwriter for the then Mayor of West Berlin and later Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker, helped negotiate the unification treaty in 1990 and, after many years in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, moved to Saxony in 1999, where he later became Minister of Finance, Justice and Home Affairs. In 2005 Angela Merkel brought him to the Chancellery as chief, after which he was twice Federal Minister of the Interior and once Minister of Defence. De Maizière wants to stay involved in various functions, but also wants to have more time for travel and family – he and his wife recently became grandparents for the first time.
The SPD politician and federal minister of justice comes from southern Hesse and was elected in 1998 for the first time in the Bundestag for the Bergstrae constituency. Before that, she was active in local politics for many years. The lawyer has been federal minister of Justice and Consumer Protection since June 2019. After Franziska Giffey’s resignation, she also took over the family department in the spring. Lambrecht motivated her decision not to participate anymore as follows: «22 years in the Bundestag means 22 years of second residence, 22 years of living out of a suitcase. At 55, I’m at an age where you can still start something new.”
After 16 years, the 68-year-old Green politician leaves the Bundestag. She sat on the opposition bench just as long as Angela Merkel in the chancellor’s chair. “At first I thought she was an extremely smart, but exclusive tactician and strategist,” says Kotting-Uhl of the dpa. “Your courageous stance in the refugee crisis has changed my mind.” The Karlsruhe MP has made her name as spokesperson for her parliamentary group on nuclear policy, most recently chairing the Committee on the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. From this perspective, she supervised the nuclear phase-out of Germany.
For the German Minister of Development, the end of his political career in Berlin is also a beginning. In July, the 65-year-old won the election as the new head of the UN organization Unido, which is responsible for the industrial development of poorer countries and has an eye for poverty reduction and sustainability. Müller therefore adheres to his central theme of justice in a globalized world, with which he confirmed the Christian spirit in the Union for eight years and – which has long grown – has also become a brand in distant countries. He puts it this way: “Our goal is fair globalization, sustainable industrial development and the creation of jobs and future prospects in developing countries.”
The left-wing faction’s domestic political spokeswoman is known for being a sharp-tongued human rights lawyer. The Hamburg-born social economist entered politics in the 1960s through the autonomous women’s, environment and peace movement. Before her studies, she trained as a hairdresser, clerk and bookseller. Since 1990, the journalist has been a member of the Bundestag for a total of 28 years, with a short interruption. “When I was chosen for the Hamburg guarantee, I was one of the youngest MPs in the 1980s,” said the 70-year-old dpa. “After more than three decades of intensive work in parliament, I don’t want to be carried out of the Bundestag, I just want to have time for myself.” Politically, however, it can still be expected.
Like many East Germans of his age, the Christian Democrat, whose political career began in the autumn of 1989, had aspired to become prime minister of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. But despite encouraging omens, the qualified IT engineer missed election victory with his CDU in the 2002 state elections. In 2005, Rehberg ran for the Bundestag and after 15 years of state politics moved to Berlin. With perseverance and expertise, the ever-faithful Merkel partner worked his way up to the budget expert of the Union Group. An influential office that he is now giving up after six years. At the age of 67, the father of two adult sons left the political scene. But he will not miss the stress of daily politics, Rehberg says.
Fabio de Masic
The leftist Hamburg member of the Bundestag will leave parliament in the autumn for personal reasons. He said he had always worked to the max for the past seven years. “My son, in particular, had to distance himself too often.” The Masi has been a member of the Bundestag since 2017. Before that, the 41-year-old had been a member of the European Parliament since 2014, where he made his name on the Panama Papers committee investigating money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion across party lines. In Berlin, the son of an Italian trade unionist and a German teacher, born in Groß-Gerau in Hesse, was able to contribute his specialist knowledge, for example about the cum-ex and Wirecard scandal or about real estate taxes.