The attitude with which Stephan Brandner takes a seat behind the desk of the Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee would previously have been called "lounging". The AfD deputy is still sitting there, out of a lack of space, even though he has done something that has never happened in the history of the German Bundestag: Brandner is the first chairman of a parliamentary committee who was voted out of office because of his behavior with the votes of all parties except his own, the AfD. For this he was rewarded by his party with promotion to the federal executive board. "I'm proud of the dismissal!" He had called to the delegates at the recent AfD party conference. "Now I'm off the chain."
The AFD has radicalized the mood in parliament. © Illustrations: Simon Schwartz for DIE ZEIT
Since the Bundestag election in autumn 2017, the AfD has been represented in the Bundestag with almost 100 men. Alexander Gauland once called the event there "democracy simulation". What did you move in with those who are always called "system parties" at the AfD and should go away? What have you learned, how has the everyday culture of the house changed?
"Dealing with the AfD has become clearer," says Britta Haßelmann, the parliamentary manager of the Greens. "Everyone now knows who they are and the methods they use. We - the parliamentary directors of the other groups - often communicate so that we don't have to respond to a request five times, but only once. We trust each other there." In this way, personal closeness has often arisen in the past months, where there is still the greatest political distance.
You can see that from FDP warlord Wolfgang Kubicki and the green figurehead Claudia Roth. Both sit in the Presidium of the Bundestag, they chair the meetings, issue calls for orders if the rules of procedure are not complied with, and thus shape the style of the building. Every member of the public who walks up to the lectern usually starts with the words: "Mr President" or "Madam President". AfD parliamentarians sometimes dispense with this formula. Claudia Roth is one of the most hated figures in the AfD, just naming her name can make AfD politicians angry.
In his office on the 5th floor of the Jakob Kaiser House, Kubicki tells how he sometimes watches what is happening on the screen when his green counterpart leads the plenary session. "The representatives of the AfD provoke Claudia Roth to the max. If I notice in my office that something like this is going to happen, I run over to the plenum and try to help that the situation relaxes." He wants to help her and advises Roth to take harder action, to call for orders, to remain calm. The Presidium is the only body of the Bundestag in which the AfD is not represented. The party has so far failed in four attempts to have one of its MPs elected as Vice President.
Suddenly, a Goebbels quote goes around
"It is now obvious that the AfD representatives did not go to parliament to work here, but to make it contemptible," says Kubicki. A quote from Joseph Goebbels from 1928 has been circulating among the members of the Bundestag for some time. At that time the NSDAP politician had said: "We are going into the Reichstag to get our own weapons in the arsenal of democracy (...) If democracy is so stupid to give us free tickets and diets for this disservice, it's their business. We don't come as friends, not even as neutral. We come as enemies. As the wolf breaks into the flock of sheep, we come . "
But Kubicki does not want to look defenseless: "The nice thing is that the rules of procedure of the German Bundestag have many options for ensuring orderly conditions at all times." The number of regulatory calls peaked in 2019. Incidentally, the house also has its own police force, 170 officers. You have police force in all rooms, at any time of the day or night.