German far-right party clinches top budget post
Frankfurt am Main (AFP)
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party secured the chair of the country's powerful budget committee Tuesday, after being repeatedly being shunned for top parliamentary jobs which were shared out among more established parties.
The move comes after the Social Democratic Party (SPD) agreed Sunday to open coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, leaving AfD lawmakers as potentially the largest opposition grouping -- traditionally called on to head up scrutiny of government finances.
MPs from the eurosceptic party will also chair the committees on law and consumer protection and of tourism.
"As the biggest opposition party, we're happy to have got these important committees," said AfD chief whip Bernd Baumann.
As well as keeping an eye on the state coffers, the law and consumer protection portfolio will give the AfD an angle of attack against a newly-introduced hate speech law that provides for swingeing fines against social networks that do not promptly remove illegal content posted by users.
But the anti-immigration party will face a new hurdle when it comes to picking candidates from among its 92 representatives in Berlin to fill the committee jobs.
Last week, AfD's candidate to join the intelligence oversight committee was rejected by fellow MPs, and the party's pick for a parliamentary deputy speaker position has been blocked over anti-Islam views.
Meanwhile, the SPD took the chair of the culture committee, quashing AfD hopes of using the seat to call Germany's culture of commemoration for the Holocaust and other historic crimes into question.
"We will make sure that the work of commemoration and our historical inheritance retain an important place in the Bundestag (German parliament) into the future," the centre-left party's chief whip Carsten Schneider tweeted.
At September's general election, the AfD rode a wave of anti-refugee sentiment to a 12.6-percent share of the vote , entering the Bundestag for the first time and throwing sand in the gears of the other parties' coalition arithmetic.
© 2018 AFP