January 24, 2018
AfD europhobe to chair of Bundestag's budget committee
Germany doesn't have a grand coalition yet, and may never have one, but the Bundestags acts as though it is a forgone conclusion. According to its internal rules, the main opposition party gets the chairmanship of the budget committee, which is the single most influential committee because any ESM programme would have to go through this committee first.
The designated AfD politician is Peter Boehringer, who is the party's spokesman on the euro and monetary policies. As FAZ reports, he is an advocate of immediate German withdrawal from the eurozone, which he calls an illegal transfer union. FAZ notes that the importance of the appointment should not be overestimated. The chairman watches over the rules of proceedure, but has little influence on the votes themselves as the majority in the committee reflects the number of seats in the Bundestag. We are not quite so optimistic. Wolfgang Schäuble managed to co-opt the Bundestag during the days of ESM programmes, and this is largely a procedural matter. The constitutional court has given the budget committee in particular the power to vet programmes, and a hostile committee chairman could impose procedural blocks. The Bundestag has been operating a gentlemen's agreement whereby all parties obtain the chairmanship of some committees. There has been a debate to exclude the AfD, but the decision was taken not to treat the AfD differently from other parties.
With a grand coalition, the AfD would become the main opposition party. The decision to press ahead with the appointment of Boehringer is logical in one respect: if the grand coalition doesn't happen, there would be new elections anyway. So, there is no risk of appointing the wrong opposition politician.