A look back at the past four years conveys an impression of what the members of the new parliament can expect: in addition to power politics, above all, a great deal of work. While individual issues and legislative proposals dominated public debate and attracted all the attention, naturally everyday political life also continued in Berlin. This can best be expressed in numbers now that the 17th legislative term comes to an end.
Between 2009 and 2013 the Bundestag passed a total of 553 laws. Most of them were put forward by the CDU/CSU and FDP government led by Angela Merkel. Only two laws were jointly proposed and passed by all five parliamentary groups: one amended the voting rights of Germans abroad and the other regulated cooperation between the Bundestag and the government on European matters. Both laws had become necessary as a result of rulings by the Federal Constitutional Court.
In two other cases individual members from different parliamentary groups joined forces across party divides and successfully promoted bills that were personally important to them. Thus, in July 2011, the Bundestag passed a law on preimplantation genetic diagnosis. It permits genetic tests on embryos if couples carry a predisposition for a serious hereditary illness or if a stillbirth or miscarriage is to be expected in their case. The second case involved a change in transplantation legislation. As a result, all citizens who are over 16 years of age will be regularly called upon by their health insurance fund to make a voluntary decision on whether or not they wish to donate their organs after their death. This is intended to increase the number of organ donations in Germany.
The control work of the parliament is also reflected in numbers. In 131 special debates, known as Aktuelle Stunden, the Bundestag discussed topical developments at the request of parliamentary groups. In addition, 54 major and 3,592 minor interpellations or parliamentary questions were submitted to the government. They came almost exclusively from opposition parties, especially from the Left Party: its parliamentary group took the opportunity to submit minor interpellations 1,659 times.
Source: bundestag.de; photograph: dpa/pa