German parliamentarians' former careers: Lawyers, teachers, historians and a butcher
Lawyers and teachers have traditionally had a strong presence in the German Bundestag, and many of its members are career parliamentarians. But there are a few surprises. Here is a breakdown of parliament by profession.
The Baden State Theater in the southern German city of Karlsruhe will soon be hiring a new actor for the titular role in its stage version of Goethe's novel "The Sorrows of Young Werther." The current Werther is now undergoing quite a a career change: he is abandoning his role at the theater for one as a deputy in Germany's Bundestag. Michel Brandt, a twenty-seven-year-old member of the left-wing party Die Linke, will enter parliament for the upcoming legislative period. Before his Bundestag debut, he will play Goethe's young Werther two more times and then take a final bow for at least the next four years. His current employer proudly stated, "Everyone who works for the theater congratulates him and is pleased that an artist been chosen to serve in Berlin."
Not all deputies will be missed as much as Brandt. Many of them have been working in Berlin for years, one legislative period after the next. The Bundestag's directory of deputies states "member of parliament" as the profession of many long-serving members. This now applies to over 300 of the 709 members of the Bundestag. The only deputy whose occupation is listed as "politician" is Green Party member Corinna Rüffer, a university dropout who has learned about politics by serving her party on municipal and state levels.
AfD may pose a challenge to historians
Ever since it became clear that the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) would enter the Bundestag for this, its 19th legislative session, politicians have been comparing the current situation to the time of the Weimar Republic.
Civil rights activist Friedrich Schorlemmer demands a clear position on history, stating, "We now need historically informed democrats in the Bundestag." Four members of parliament may feel that they in particular are being addressed, as they hold degrees in history. The other 705 will have to rely on their educational background.
There are no historians to be found in the ranks of the AfD. A pilot, two of parliament's six policemen and three of the Bundstag's fifteen university professors represent the AfD. The professors have worked in the fields of physics, business administration and consumer policy.
Professors from other party factions have conducted research in economics, engineering or medicine. Probably one of the most prominent academics in the Bundestag, bow-tie wearer and health expert Karl Lauterbach, has held a seat in parliament for the Social Democrats (SPD) since 2005.
Lawyers make up the body's largest professional group by far. Parliament, defined as a legislative body by the constitution, will be able to rely on the expert knowledge of over 100 law experts, mostly lawyers but also six judges among them. The number of farmers in the Bundestag has continued to drop: there were 13 farmers in the last parliament and only nine in this one. Alois Rainer, a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU) from Straubing, Bavaria, is the only butcher in parliament.
Fewer teachers in the legislative ranks
Traditionally, the Bundestag has never lacked for teachers, but now only 19 members are teachers, four of which at the university level. Even fewer members list their profession as self-employed. Theologians are even more scarce (four) as are veterinarians (two). Lastly, one trained diplomat will join parliament, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff. He is the nephew of former West German Economic Affairs Minister Otto Graf Lambsdorff.
Colorful shorthand for German coalitions
Coalitions are common under Germany's proportional representation system. To describe complex ballot outcomes, political pundits use colorful symbolism, often alluding to the flags of other nations. Coalition short-hand includes 'Jamaica,' 'Kenya,' and 'traffic light' coalitions.
'Jamaica' option - black, yellow and green
The three-way deal between the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats, whose color is yellow will not be happening at national level after the FDP called off talks. The northern state of Schleswig-Holstein currently has a "Jamaica" government, as CDU premier Daniel Günther governs with the FDP and the Greens.
Conservative black combined with transformative red is the color code when the Christian Democrats govern in a grand coalition with the Social Democrats. Yellow on these billboards alludes to Germany's tricolor flag of black, red and gold. Black tops the flag, signifying Germany's responsibility for the Holocaust.
'Pizza Connection' in Bonn, before parliament moved to Berlin
When Bonn was still Germany's capital, individual conservatives and Greens met from 1995 in its suburban Italian Sassella restaurant. Since then, the 'Pizza Connection' has become code for speculation over further links. At regional level, in Hesse's Wiesbaden assembly, Merkel's CDU and Greens have governed together since 2014. Baden-Württemburg's Greens-CDU coalition has governed since 2016.
Another untried combination: Black, red, green, symbolized by Kenya's flag
So far, a 'Kenyan' coalition has only emerged once at regional state level - last year in Saxony-Anhalt, when the SPD's vote collapsed, and the AfD took a quarter of the votes. Premier Reiner Haseloff of Merkel's conservatives forged a coalition comprising his conservative CDU, the battered SPD and the region's Greens.
'Traffic light' coalition
The market-oriented liberal FDP, whose color is yellow, has in the past generally ruled out federal coalitions sandwiched between the Social Democrats, whose color is red, and the Greens. A current example is Rhineland Palatinate's three-way regional state coalition based in Mainz and headed by Social Democrat Malu Dreyer.
Center-left combinations in three eastern states
Red-red-green coalitions exist in two German regions: since last September in Berlin city state and since 2014 in Thuringia. It's Erfurt-based government is headed by Left party premier Bodo Ramelow, seen signing (third from left). Berlin's three-way mix is headed by Social Democrat Michael Müller. Brandenburg has a two-way coalition, comprising the Social Democrats and the Left party.