AfD lawmaker Mariana Harder-Kühnel fails again in vice presidency bid | News | DW | 04.04.2019
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AfD lawmaker Mariana Harder-Kühnel fails again in vice presidency bid

The far-right AfD lawmaker Mariana Harder-Kühnel has tried three times to become a parliamentary vice president. The latest attempt was her worst showing so far.

In a secret ballot, only 199 members of the lower house Bundestag parliament voted for Mariana Harder-Kühnel to become one of parliamentary speaker Wolfgang Schäuble's deputies. There were 423 deputies who voted against her and 43 who abstained.

The AfD has 92 deputies in the 709-seat chamber.

By tradition, the speaker has a deputy from each party, but to date the Bundestag has refused to support any AfD candidate for the post. It was Harder-Kühnel's third attempt, and the sixth by a candidate put forward by the party.

The six-member presidium is made up of Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU), Thomas Oppermann (SPD), Wolfgang Kubicki (FDP), Petra Pau (Left) and Claudia Roth (Greens), headed by Bundestag President Schäuble (formerly CDU).

Support actually dipped at the third attempt. Standing for the post in December, Harder-Kühnel had the support of 241 deputies. In the previous vote in November, she gathered 223 ballots from the 654 who voted.

Various politicians took to social media to express their views as to why the votes were lacking for the 44-year-old lawyer and Catholic mother of three — an AfD member since 2013 — with strong opinions on gay rights, abortion and foreigners.

Alice Weidel, the AfD leader whose anti-EU speech was re-tweeted by UK politician Jacob Rees-Mogg

Alice Weidel, the AfD leader whose anti-EU speech was re-tweeted by Conservative UK politician and Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg

For the AfD's Beatrix von Storch, democracy was the loser in the vote: "With the non-election of Harder-Kühnel, the name of the biggest loser is: Democracy," she wrote on Twitter. "Yes, there is no right to be voted in. But there is a duty to provide reasons for voting against. And there are no reasons."

Lawyer and leading CDU parliamentarian Michael Grosse-Brömer said it was important to avoid the AfD presenting itself as a victim of bullying by the mainstream parties: "We should not allow the AfD a martyr status and we should make them carry out their responsibilities — rather than giving them the opportunity to moan about not being given a majority." 

However, Greens spokesman Sven Kindler said Harder-Kühnel's failure was a "good day for democracy and a clear signal against the normalization of right-wing extremism."

Kindler's words were mirrored by the SPD's Marja-Liisa Völlers, who wrote: "If a group systematically disregards the decency of our democratic culture, then it also has no entitlement to a Bundestag vice-presidency."

jm/msh (epd, dpa, AFP)

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