Status: 08.09.2021 5:24 p.m.
Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble is running again in the Bundestag election. In an interview with tagesschau.de explains the CDU politician why he still wants to continue at the age of 79 – and what annoyed him in this legislature.
tagesschau.de: Mr Schäuble, that was a legislative period the like of which has never existed in parliamentary history. Parliament had to work in a total state of emergency because of the pandemic. Were there moments for you when you were concerned about the functioning of democracy?
Schäuble: At the beginning, when we didn’t even know how it was going to develop, I thought about whether we should create the constitutional prerequisites to be able to work with a kind of emergency parliament if necessary. That had not found any echo in the parliamentary groups. Then we said we’re going to do it the way we ended up doing it. I think we did very well. We have complied with all distance and hygiene rules. We measured exactly as we do in Germany, already perfect, thorough. But we always met face-to-face in plenary. I am also a little proud of that. Of the larger parliaments, we were the first and for a long time the only one who said: No, parliamentary debates cannot be made digitally. You can do that in committee deliberations, but not in parliamentary debates with pros and cons, in exchange or in disputes. That worked well.
Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble in an interview about the last legislative period
tagesschau24 2.00 p.m., 8.9.2021
tagesschau.de: But there was also a great social division that hit Parliament itself. The summit was certainly the storming of the Reichstag stairs and the pictures that were created by radical opponents of the Corona measures. When you saw this, what was going on inside you?
Schäuble: I thought it was a shame to misuse the symbol of our democracy, and that is the Reichstag as the seat of our parliament, for such images. We weren’t in danger, it wasn’t a situation comparable to the Capitol in Washington. But the misuse of the symbol really annoyed me.
tagesschau.de: There were also the so-called influencers, who were invited to parliament by AfD members and who harassed members of parliament with running cameras and exposed them online. It has never happened before.
Schäuble: They exposed themselves. It takes a certain amount of serenity. But it has to be clear, if serenity doesn’t help, the rules will be enforced.
tagesschau.de: Polarization also takes place in the plenary hall. For example, there was the situation in which the AfD used coffin symbols to claim that the Basic Law would be buried. You reprimanded that. Do you share the observation that the AfD has hardened the atmosphere in parliament?
Schäuble: I didn’t feel that way. I mean, the other groups paid relatively little attention to the AfD. The AfD itself has repeatedly contributed to this. We in the Bureau took great care to ensure that everyone was treated equally as far as the rules in Parliament were concerned. And essentially that worked fine. That doesn’t change the fact that when I talk to AfD colleagues, I say: What I can do politically so that they are no longer elected, I do. But that’s another question.
tagesschau.de: You have been in this Parliament for almost half a century and you will soon be 79 years old. Nevertheless, you want to know again and are running again for the Bundestag. What is it that drives you?
Schäuble: Well, many younger people, not only from my constituency, asked me to stand again. You said that during this time, when a lot has changed so fundamentally and Angela Merkel is ceasing to be Federal Chancellor, which is already a turning point, during this time you would like me to continue in the role that I am playing now: a little more distanced from government policy , but when it is needed to bring them together, to remind them. That’s why they asked me to run again. And my wife laughed heartily because she said, I know you like to hear that. Because I really enjoy doing it. And if the voters then vote for me on September 26th, then I’ll be ready, as long as I have the strength, to go on with it. Politics is a passion.
tagesschau.de: But you do not know whether you can continue in your office. Right now the polls aren’t great for your party. But a normal MP Schäuble without any function? Can you imagine that?
Schäuble: That’s how I started. But now you are not talking to the President of the Bundestag, but to the CDU member and candidate Wolfgang Schäuble.
tagesschau.de: The politician.
Schäuble: I am doing everything I can to ensure that we win the election again, and when the result is clear on September 26th, democracy is the way it is, I will accept it. I’m prepared for that and that’s not a problem for me.
tagesschau.de: That means, after September 26th, can you imagine just being the constituency MP for a full four years?
Schäuble: Now let’s see. I am fighting for a certain election result, that is perfectly clear, with all my might, but of course also with the awareness of the restraint that my office imposes on me. And when the result is determined on September 26th at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., then it is the result and that is accepted. And it won’t pose any problems for me.