Germany’s austerity finance minister to be Bundestag speaker
Wolfgang Schäuble, a man equally revered and reviled for his austerity economics, is to quit his powerful role as German finance minister and become speaker of the parliament, his party has announced.
Schäuble, 75, was asked to take on the role by the chancellor, Angela Merkel, who wants someone with authority to steer debate in the Bundestag after the success in last month’s election of the radical Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), which is due to take up 94 seats, having won 12.6% of the vote. The AfD leadership has vowed to shake up the Bundestag’s debating culture, making it much rowdier.
The post of speaker has been empty since Norbert Lammert, a veteran CDU MP, recently announced he would retire at the end of the last parliamentary term. In terms of protocol it ranks second only to that of federal president and ahead of the chancellor, but in reality is less powerful than Schäuble’s current post.