Nationalists win 3 German parliament committee chairs
BERLIN (AP) — Lawmakers from the nationalist Alternative for Germany party have become the chairmen of three German parliamentary committees, including the important budget panel, winning lackluster backing Wednesday after opponents forced rare votes for the posts.
Peter Boehringer was elected to lead the budget committee with votes only from Alternative for Germany, or AfD, and the pro-business Free Democrats. The opposition Left Party voted against him and representatives of other parties abstained.
Committee chairs are usually installed without a vote but opponents objected to past comments on various issues by Boehringer, a critic of the euro currency. Similar issues prompted votes on the chairmanship of the justice and tourism committees, now headed by AfD lawmakers Stephan Brandner and Sebastian Muenzenmaier respectively.
AfD won 12.6 percent of the vote in Germany’s September election to win seats in parliament for the first time and become the third-biggest party, following a campaign that featured shrill criticism of established politicians — particularly of Chancellor Angela Merkel and her 2015 decision to let in large numbers of migrants.
It is likely to be the biggest opposition party once a new government is formed.
The budget committee post, which is symbolically important although its occupant doesn’t get to change government policy, traditionally goes to the largest opposition group. Other parties didn’t dispute the party’s right to get the job but, as in previous cases, voiced distaste over AfD’s nominees.
Lawmakers from other parties have blocked an AfD lawmaker from joining a committee that oversees the country’s intelligence services. They also rejected the party’s candidate for deputy speaker over comments about Islam.