FDP implements a swap: the Union must next to the AfD

Status: 16.12.2021 4:46 p.m.

In the Bundestag, the SPD, the Greens and the FDP have decided on a new seating arrangement with the support of the Left Party. The Union now has to take a seat next to the AfD, which led to lively discussions.

By Björn Dake, ARD capital studio

The craftsmen in the Bundestag are ready to charge the cordless screwdrivers. 289 armchairs of the “Figura” type, color “Reichstag-Blue” need to be newly assembled. The 197 chairs of the CDU and CSU move to the right – seen from the lectern. The 92 chairs of the FDP in the middle, on the side of the Greens.

Björn Dake
ARD capital studio

For the Liberals, a long-cherished wish has come true. FDP parliamentary director Johannes Vogel: “We are a force of the middle and therefore we belong in the middle of the plenary.” Vogel refers to the seating arrangements in the state parliaments, in which the FDP can often be found in the middle.

Who sits where in parliament is not binding. But even at the time of the French Revolution, to the right of the President, in the place of honor, was the nobility. The third stand with farmers and craftsmen was on the left.

Unpleasant neighbors

For decades, the FDP had come to terms with its place on the far right in the Bundestag. But then the AfD came four years ago. She took the place on the far right. And the desire to move to the center of parliament grew among the neighboring liberals. This is not just for symbolic reasons.

The FDP MP Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann reported in May that the AfD kept making inhuman and insulting comments. Loud enough that the people sitting next to you can hear it, but too quiet for the Presidium of the Bundestag. “You don’t hear what’s going on here. I just want everyone to know,” she says. “This disrespectful manner in this house is unbearable.”

Protest from the Union

Thorsten Frei from the CDU finds the chair back, which has now been decided by Ampel and Linken, unbearable and disrespectful. The members of the CDU and CSU will in future sit next to the AfD parliamentary group, separated only by a narrow aisle. “It’s a sign of small-mindedness because they don’t care about the essential issues, but because they cavort in secondary theaters of war. And I want to tell you one thing: think about the end.”

Majorities would also change again. The Union warns: The decision will have an impact on cooperation in Parliament. According to the Bundestag administration, it is the first time that the MPs will vote on their seating arrangements. So far, something like this has always been resolved amicably in the Parliament’s Council of Elders.

Just a “puppet theater”?

The SPD and the Greens support their new coalition partner, the FDP, today – but the speakers from the Social Democrats and the Greens did not reveal any particular passion. For the AfD MP Stephan Brandner, the whole debate about the seating arrangement is superfluous: “Important debates belong here in the house and not a puppet theater about who is sitting next to whom.”

The AfD abstains from voting on the new seating arrangement. The Union votes against. SPD, Greens, FDP and Left for it. The majority of the traffic lights have demonstrated their power. The tone of cooperation in Parliament could get rougher.

It will be loud in the next few days anyway: assemble chairs, move aisles, reconnect cables for microphones and telephones. According to the Bundestag administration, the renovation should not even take two days. Everything should be ready by the first week of the New Year’s meeting at the latest.

Back chairs in the Bundestag: FDP and Union swap

Björn Dake, ARD Berlin, December 16, 2021 4:09 pm

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