Successor Emily Vontz: Suddenly Bundestag

Status: 01/01/2023 2:59 p.m

“Heiko Maas called”: Sometimes things happen quickly in politics. The ex-foreign minister leaves the Bundestag and is replaced by Emily Vontz. The 22-year-old will then be the youngest in Parliament. What is she up to?

By Denise Friemann, SR

Emily Vontz speaks of a “really crazy week” on her Instagram account. You can see her by the lake in rural Losheim, her home in Saarland. Shortly before, it had become known that she would soon be going to Berlin – at the age of 22 she would be the youngest member of the Bundestag. “I’m excited and have respect for the task,” she continues. “But I’m also happy and really want to do my best.”

A call

The Juso state chairwoman found out about her new job on the phone a few days before everything became public. “Heiko Maas actually called me. I won’t forget this phone call anytime soon,” says Vontz in an interview with the Saarland Radio. That was mid-December. Maas had decided to end his political career and work in a law firm from the new year. Because Vontz was fourth on the state list in the 2021 federal election and the candidates before her are already members of the Bundestag, she can now take Maas’ place.

Common Juso past

But Emily Vontz and Heiko Maas have more in common than this state list. Maas was also chairman of the Juso state before his political career began in the Bundestag: “That was also a topic in one or the other conversation and also quite funny if you share the same experiences. The SPD in Saarland is actually like Saarland itself : Everyone knows everyone.” Vontz himself was only elected Saarland Juso boss in September.

And yet Vontz does not want to try to replace Maas in the Bundestag. “That’s not even possible. I want to start over now and just do good politics.”

Social justice, climate change, voting age from 16 – these are important issues for her. “I also see it as my job to get into conversation with people and try to arouse my own enthusiasm for politics in other people.”

Berlin instead of Saarland: Emily Vontz moves into the Bundestag for Heiko Maas.

Image: dpa

Doing instead of complaining

Vontz has been interested in politics since school. At the age of 17 she joined the Saarland Jusos, and the following year she was also a member of the SPD. The triggering factors for them were the election of Donald Trump and the first entry of the AfD into the Bundestag. “I wanted to get involved politically and not complain, but do it. That’s such a stupid saying, but that’s exactly how it felt.”

But there is also criticism of her job in the Bundestag. Because she is too young and still studying. In social networks, she is sometimes referred to as a “child” who has neither work nor life experience. And indeed, the average member of the Bundestag is more than twice as old. When asked about it, she says: Both young and old members of parliament are needed. Many of the issues that she represents are not the top issue for older people, such as the climate crisis. A young trainee recently told her about her fear of climate change and the consequences. In such moments, she notices: “It’s good if I listen to it and then represent it,” says Vontz.

The search for a place to sleep

At the turn of the year, Maas officially resigned his mandate – now Emily Vontz’s political career begins in Berlin. “I’ve already talked to a few friends in Berlin. There’s definitely an option for a place to sleep,” she reports.

But she will not leave Saarland entirely. “You’re always in Berlin for two weeks and then I’m back in Saarland for two weeks.” The 22-year-old doesn’t want to neglect her studies either. She is in her fourth semester studying political science and French at the University of Trier. What will you miss in Berlin? Being asked, “Hey Emily, how are you?” while walking to the bakery in the morning.

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