After a pandemic-related hiatus, the fifth annual meeting of parliamentary presidents of the German-speaking countries took place in Vaduz on 25 and 26 August. At the invitation of the president of the Landtag of the Principality of Liechtenstein, Albert Frick, National Council president Irène Kälin (The Greens, AG), the president of the German Bundestag, Bärbel Bas, the president of the Austrian National Council, Wolfgang Sobotka, the president of Luxembourg’s Chamber of Deputies, Fernand Etgen, and the president of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community of Belgium, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, attended the meeting. The six parliamentary presidents represent a population of around 100 million people, the largest language community in Europe.
The meeting focused on cooperation on issues of common interest and on strengthening relations between the six German-speaking countries. The participants discussed the role of parliaments during the coronavirus pandemic and exchanged views on possibilities for civic participation in democratic societies. The responses of the German-speaking countries parliaments to the COVID-19 pandemic were discussed. Certain countries opted for more restrictive measures to contain the virus, others pursued a more liberal approach. Due to rapid mutations of the virus, many measures had to be implemented at very short notice. On the topic of citizen participation, the participants presented the various democratic participation systems in their countries. In view of the very different approaches to political rights not all models can be implemented in all countries due to the different contexts.
The five Speakers of Parliament of the German-speaking countries / ©Paul Trummer
President of the National Council Irène Kälin at the meeting of the Speakers of the German-speaking countries / ©Paul Trummer