Traffic light trembles for ataman majority: Lindner's wedding costs one vote

This Thursday, the Bundestag will elect a new anti-discrimination officer.

Traffic light trembles for ataman majority: Lindner's wedding costs one vote

This Thursday, the Bundestag will elect a new anti-discrimination officer. There is controversy about the candidate Ferda Ataman proposed by the Greens. The Corona summer wave could make the outcome of the vote close.

Things will get exciting in the Bundestag on Thursday afternoon, even if the item on the agenda sounds unspectacular. Five minutes are planned for the election of the Federal Commissioner for Anti-Discrimination, a debate is not planned. They already existed outside of the Bundestag, in the media and on social media.

Because the candidate for the office, the journalist Ferda Ataman, is what is simply called controversial. The line between criticism and support for her runs where conservative and progressive positions find no compromises - all the more vehement were the contributions to the question of whether the 43-year-old is a good cast or not.

The cross-camp composition of the traffic light ensures that Ataman is also controversial within the coalition. The SPD and the Greens support them largely unreservedly, but it's not that easy for the FDP - especially since the media that are traditionally close to them have been drumming against Ataman for weeks. As a precaution, the Greens, whose family minister Lisa Paus suggested Ataman, recalled that the cabinet unanimously approved the personnel. The approval of the Federal Minister of Finance and FDP leader Christian Lindner is already there.

"As far as I know, the FDP is also represented in the federal cabinet," said Greens parliamentary secretary Irene Mihalic on Wednesday. "I don't know what's supposed to be funny about that." In any case, the Greens are "very optimistic" that Ataman will get the required majority.

The dispute is also so sensitive for the coalition because agreement on content is not always as stable as its arithmetic majority. As is well known, there was no majority in the Bundestag for compulsory vaccination, although Chancellor Olaf Scholz had campaigned for it - and although Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was ordered back early by a NATO summit to take part in the vote.

Originally, the Bundestag should have decided on Ataman in June, but the election was postponed to the last week of the session before the parliamentary summer recess, reportedly under pressure from the Liberals. On June 21, Ataman then visited the FDP parliamentary group. A group spokeswoman said afterwards that it was "an open and constructive exchange". At the parliamentary group meeting last Tuesday, this meeting was discussed again internally. According to FDP circles, there were critical comments, but overall the mood was not such that a rejection was likely.

However, Ataman needs the so-called chancellor majority, i.e. at least 369 votes. This means that the traffic light can afford a maximum of 47 deviations. Since the Corona summer wave has also arrived in the Bundestag, things could get tight – according to information from the “Tagesspiegel”, more than ten MPs are likely to be missing on Thursday due to illness in the SPD parliamentary group alone. Two FDP MPs, Linda Teuteberg and Thomas Sattelberger, have already decided not to vote for Ataman. And then there is Lindner's wedding to the television journalist Franca Lehfeldt: The celebrations will only take place after the church wedding on Saturday, but the two will officially marry on Thursday, which is why Lindner will be on Sylt - another voice that Ataman is missing.

The public dispute over Ataman has long since taken on the characteristics of an identity-political culture war. Among other things, critics accuse her of insulting Germans as "potatoes". In fact, she had written in her column for "Spiegel" that "the tuber" was wrongly "under a discursive suspicion of discrimination". Her thesis was that the excitement about the potato was "about the inner resistance to dealing with oneself and one's own privileges".

The list of other allegations includes that Ataman brought former Interior Minister Horst Seehofer close to "Blood and Soil" politics and that he was an activist and therefore not a neutral contact person. She is also accused of having deleted thousands of older tweets on her Twitter account in order to avoid controversy over earlier statements. Ataman herself said she deleted the tweets for reasons of neutrality. Her supporters argue that the allegations are fabricated or even defamatory, and that the many comments made against her are the expression of a character assassination campaign.

It is the first time that the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner has been elected by the Bundestag. So far, the position has been filled by the Federal Minister for Family Affairs in consultation with the cabinet. Not for the first time, however, there is trouble with the occupation: in 2018, Nancy Böhning, until then SPD federal manager, was to take over the position. After a competitor filed a lawsuit, the position remained vacant. Since then, the anti-discrimination agency has been run on an interim basis.

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