Parliaments are great. They can be emotional, like the Italian. Or slapstick, like the Russian. Or lawless, like the Ukrainian (where you’re even allowed to fight in the galleries). Or just psychotic, like the Taiwanese. What the above clips show is the fundamental impotence of MPs.
But the Bundestag is the best. I love the grey surfaces and the big, soft, swively, blue chairs and the luxurious, comforting expanse of the no-man’s carpet in the middle.
Unlike the above parliaments, the Bundestagsabgeordnete don’t fight with their fists. Instead, they say passive-aggressive things to each other. It’s almost as if they’re trying to embarrass each other into winning the argument. Here are my favourite exchanges.
1) Here, there’s a moment of procedural consternation as it turns out that Economics Minister Philipp Rösler is, in fact, not in today. This turns into five minutes of stomach-knotting awkwardness as the Green party man who had a question to ask him simply cannot understand how he is not there, since he has a piece of paper which says he is.
2) Here’s Ursula von der Leyen, the family minister, getting very shouty while Jürgen Trittin and Renate Künast from the Green party keep heckling her because something has not been written on the proper noticeboard. They are very, very annoyed.
3) Here, Angela Merkel laughs at a joke by Trittin about Guido Westerwelle. She laughs, and then looks round to see Westerwelle sitting next to her. He does not think it’s that funny. It’s a delightful moment.
4) And here are the best bits of Gregor Gysi. The Linke faction are generally the most fun in the parliament, because they know no-one wants to do a coalition with them. They are currently having a whale of a time honing their told-you-sos with the financial meltdown.
5) And here Rainer Brüderle goes a bit mental.