BERLIN (AP) — Center-left lawmaker Baerbel Bas is set to become the new speaker of Germany’s parliament, replacing conservative veteran and former Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in one of the country’s most prominent positions.
Leaders of the parliamentary group of the Social Democrats, who emerged from Germany’s Sept. 26 election as the strongest party, endorsed Bas on Wednesday. That paves the way for the new 736-member lower house of parliament, or Bundestag, to elect her when it holds its first meeting next Tuesday.
Bas, 53, has been a member of the Bundestag since 2009. She was a deputy leader of her party’s parliamentary group in the outgoing parliament and its spokeswoman on health, education and research.
German political convention holds that the speaker’s job goes to the biggest party in the Bundestag, with the other parties getting deputy speakers. The Social Democrats narrowly beat outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Union bloc in the election.
That means Schaeuble, 79, will have to give up the speaker’s job after four years. The longest-serving member of parliament, he has been a lawmaker since 1972. He also served twice as Germany’s interior minister and as finance minister during the eurozone debt crisis.
Nominating Bas resolves a dilemma for the Social Democrats after Rolf Muetzenich, the head of their parliamentary group, was floated as a contender. With Merkel retiring, the party risked creating a situation in which all of Germany’s top jobs — the president, chancellor, speakers of both houses of parliament and chief justice of the constitutional court — were held by men.
Many members of the party were keen to avoid an all-male lineup. Bas would be the Bundestag’s third female speaker.
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Center-left nominates new speaker for German parliament