It was the most heated debate the new Bundestag has seen so far. For almost two hours, the MPs discussed and argued on Thursday morning in the Reichstag about the draft amendment to the Infection Protection Act introduced by the traffic light parties SPD, Alliance 90/The Greens and FDP. The provides for a number of new regulations such as a 3G obligation (vaccinated, recovered or tested) in the workplace or on public transport, but also a phasing out of the so-called epidemic emergency, which gives the government a kind of blanket authority. It became clear that it is not only about the question of how Corona can be fought most efficiently.
The SPD member of parliament and physician Sabine Dittmar made the beginning. They immediately used their appearance to launch a frontal attack against the CDU/CSU. This wanted to hold on to the "verfangsrechtlich extremely problematic special right" (of the epidemic emergency). "You want both constitutionally and epidemiologically questionable curfews and bans on lodging or the blanket closure of retail establishments to be maintained," Dittmar said, and stooped to claiming, "Mask deals would also continue to be possible if you had political responsibility."
Criticism of the Infection Protection Act: "Today you make your first mistake"
That was the prelude to a lively back and forth of the black Peter, who is responsible for the dramatic situation with over 65.000 new infections currently bears political responsibility. The speaker from the CSU, Stephan Stracke, described the traffic light alliance as a "left-yellow coalition" and accused the presumed future government partners of "failing to do justice to the dramatic nature of the situation"." With regard to the bill, he said, "Today you make your first mistake." Stracke continued: "The numbers go up and you reduce the measures. That can't go well."
The other side did not want to put up with this. The parliamentary director of the FDP, Marco Buschmann, recalled that in Union-led states such as Bavaria and Saxony, the infection figures are the highest, and that the abolition of the epidemic emergency as a controversial concept is about creating a legally secure framework. "In truth, you are not fighting Corona on the merits," Bushman said, addressing the Union: "You are fighting a political constellation that is becoming."
Corona rules: Union accuses FDP of "hypocrisy"
Also a popular stylistic device in the debate: beat the political opponent with his own words. Union faction vice-chairman Thorsten Frei recalled that, contrary to the party line, the Green Party health ministers of Baden-Wurttemberg, Hesse and Brandenburg had called for an extension of the epidemic situation. He accused the FDP of "hypocrisy." They demand now the shoulder closure, after they have voted in recent months against all protective measures. The Union wants to deny it. He said it was "irresponsible" to end the epidemic emergency and thus "knock instruments out of the hands of those politically responsible".
Several speakers for the traffic light accused the CDU/CSU of not using the epidemic emergency tools at all in the states they lead, pointing out that German Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) himself had called for an end to the epidemic emergency. The latter defended himself in a brief intervention: the dynamics of the past days have predicted "only a few". However, the chief virologist at Charite, Christian Drosten, like other virologists, had already warned in July of a "winter wave" in light of the low vaccination rate.
"What did you actually put in the tea of the Greens and the SPD"
Briefly the Bundestag became the scene of a legal symposium. Jan-Marco Luczak (CDU) and Dirk Wiese (SPD) argued over whether the traffic light bill would allow or preclude the closure of bars and clubs, both hotspots for new infections, according to studies. Both accused themselves of not having read and understood the draft properly.
Dietmar Bartsch, head of the left-wing parliamentary group, brought another aspect into the debate: the poor pay of care workers. Between summer 2019 and summer 2021, the wage of nursing staff in hospitals had increased by only 1.50 euros. He also called for a vaccination bonus. During his appearance, he mocks the fact that SPD and the Greens had still agreed to the extension of the epidemic emergency in June at an incidence of 19, but now wanted to abolish it at all costs at a much higher incidence.
Addressing the leader of the FDP parliamentary group, he said: "Dear Christian Lindner, what did you actually put in the tea for the Greens and the SPD during the coalition negotiations??" But he also did not spare the old government. The latter had gone "into summer sleep" instead of enforcing tough measures against Corona.
AfD politician spreads lies from the rostrum
AfD parliamentary group leader Tino Chrupalla, who has just survived a Corona illness, picked up on the dismantling of intensive care beds in his speech. He accused the government of discrimination against the unvaccinated.
Probably the most bizarre performance of the debate was delivered by his parliamentary group colleague Martin Sichert. The latter spoke from the tribune, where all deputies must sit who do not want to comply with the 3G rule prevailing in the Bundestag. He called the planned measures a "blatant injustice" and claimed that vaccinations are more dangerous than Corona. For example, he said, there are six deaths every day due to vaccinations alone. Where he got that number, he did not say.
He brushed aside the fact that more than 200 people currently die every day from or with corona. SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach commented on Sichert's post on Twitter, saying, "People like him are partly to blame that others are dying."
FDP politician reports on personal fate
The most personal moment was provided by Michael Theurer, a member of the FDP. He reported that his daughter, a premature baby, has been in intensive care since July. He was therefore in permanent contact with the nursing staff. He said the federal government's vaccination campaign had failed, and the previous legal situation had not prevented the dramatic situation. Nor had it eliminated the shortage of caregivers. That was a "lie".
The admonition from Green Party parliamentary group leader Katrin Goring-Eckardt (Greens) proved to be a pious wish: "On this day, people rightly expect us to pull ourselves together and act." Although the Bundestag passed the new Corona measures with the majority of the SPD, FDP and the Greens. But the CDU/CSU plans to block the law in the Bundesrat on Friday.