The freshly elected German parliament will assemble for the first time on Tuesday. Baerbel Bas of the center-left Social Democrats, which came out on top in last month’s election, is likely to be elected as the new speaker of the 736-member lower house, or Bundestag.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will attend the gathering, even though she is no longer a legislator. She will be seated in the visitor’s gallery of the House of Commons. Later this afternoon, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will formally dismiss Merkel and her cabinet, though they will be requested to remain in place as a caretaker government until a new government is formed.
Last week, the three parties that hope to form Germany’s next government said that they expect to have the country’s next chancellor in place by early December, but conceded that the effort would be difficult.
Following a preliminary agreement earlier this month that set out their aims but left many things unanswered, the Social Democrats, environmentalist Greens, and pro-business Free Democrats began formal coalition talks.
German coalition discussions are lengthy affairs that result in an agreement that lays out the government’s four-year programme in detail. As the country’s political landscape has splintered, elections have tended to get longer, resulting in legislative majorities for longstanding allies being rare.
If the talks go well, the new administration will oust Merkel’s center-right Union bloc from power after 16 years in charge. Olaf Scholz, who led the Social Democrats to a tight election victory on September 26th, will succeed her. In the current government, he serves as vice chancellor and finance minister.