With an appeal for diversity of opinion, the previous President of the Bundestag Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) opened the constituent session of the 20th German Bundestag as old-age president.

Parliament is the room in which the diversity of opinions can be openly discussed, he said on Tuesday in Berlin.

"That becomes even more important because in our society there is less willingness to endure opposing viewpoints, to even allow contradiction."

At the same time he called on the government and the opposition to trust each other.

“Otherwise what democracy urgently needs will be lost: political leadership.” At the same time, he addressed the fight against climate change and expressed understanding for the impatience of climate protectors.

At the same time, he warned that anyone who “sets goals and means absolutely puts them in a position against the democratic principle”.

Schäuble urges reform of the electoral law

Schäuble said that the Bundestag could meet again in plenary for the first time for its constituent session despite the restrictions due to the corona pandemic.

"If we succeeded in doing that with the electoral law, for example, I would not be sad after the bitter experience of the past legislative period, which was also for me personally," he added.

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) also took part in the constituent session of the newly elected Bundestag on September 26th.

The senior president traditionally opens this session.

Schäuble is the senior member of parliament.

The 79-year-old has been a member of the Bundestag since 1972 without interruption.

AfD fails with application

The AfD had previously failed in its attempt to enforce its MP Alexander Gauland as senior president of the Bundestag.

A motion by the parliamentary group to change the rules of procedure did not find a majority on Tuesday at the constituent session of the Bundestag in Berlin.

At 80 years of age, Gauland is the oldest member of parliament. However, the rules of procedure were changed after the 2017 federal election, so that the age president is now the member with the most parliamentary years. This was intended to prevent Gauland from opening the first meeting even back then as the senior president. The age president is now Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU).

In the history of German parliamentarism, only one parliament would have dared to break with the tradition that the post went to the oldest member of the parliament, said the parliamentary director of the AfD, Bernd Baumann.

That was the Reichstag in 1933 after the Nazis came to power under Reichstag President Hermann Göring.

“Should that be your role model?” Asked Baumann.

“It's not a good tradition.

Come back to the path that has been tried and tested for centuries by all German democrats. "

The parliamentary manager of the SPD parliamentary group, Carsten Schneider, said that the SPD strictly rejects the AfD's application.

The AfD lost approval in the election.

Baumann's reference to 1933 was a cheek, said Schneider.

He couldn't imagine a better age president than Schäuble.

CDU criticizes "a touch of arrogance in power"

The parliamentary managing director of the CDU / CSU parliamentary group, Michael Grosse-Brömer, said with a view to Gauland that whoever describes the darkest chapter in German history as "fly shit" has already disqualified himself.

Grosse-Brömer also criticized efforts by the FDP to change the seating arrangements in the Bundestag “with a crowbar”.

This is not a good style: "I feel a touch of arrogance of power."

The FDP parliamentary group would like to swap places with the Union in the plenary hall.

So far, the AfD sits on the far right - as seen from the President of the Bundestag -, next to it the FDP, then the Union, the Greens, the SPD and on the left the left-wing parliamentary group.