The parliamentary group of the left demands that the current regulation for awarding federal crosses of merit to members of parliament is abolished immediately. “The regulation is a bizarre custom and an anachronism,” says Jan Korte, the parliamentary group’s first parliamentary secretary. “Political elites shouldn’t give each other medals.” The current regulation is “nonsense and has to go”.
So far, the parliamentary groups have been allowed to nominate MPs to be awarded the Federal Cross of Merit according to their strength ratio. In the past legislative period, 25 current and former MPs received the order in this way. The Union faction came twelve times to train, the SPD faction seven times. Four medals went to FDP politicians, two to the Greens.
“We didn’t make use of this rule in the past legislative period – and we won’t use it in the future either,” says Korte. If you want to award politicians, you should think of mayors, for example, who have to endure right-wing hostility on site. For such mayors, a medal would be an important sign “that those up there are thinking of them and won’t leave them alone.”
In the future, even 36 MPs could get the order
However, the CDU and CSU see no need to change the awarding of the medal. The existing practice is “appropriate and up-to-date,” says the spokesman for the Union faction. The Social Democrats also defend the current practice. The parliamentary director of the SPD parliamentary group, Josephine Ortleb, refers to the extensive process with which her parliamentary group selects the MPs who are to receive the Federal Cross of Merit.
“We ask the national groups of the parliamentary group who they think should be honored,” says Ortleb. The deputies must be able to show “outstanding merits, for example in the voluntary sector, or also a high level of civic commitment and preferably a long-standing membership in the Bundestag”. In addition, one takes into account the “exercise of prominent functions in the parliamentary group and / or parliamentary offices”. The responsible parliamentary manager then decides “in consultation with members of the parliamentary group management” who will actually be named by the nominees. This procedure is intended to ensure that “all criteria of religiousness are taken into account” and that “those with the highest merits are awarded this honor”. “That’s why I would like to answer the question of whether the procedure is still up-to-date from the point of view of the parliamentary group,” says Ortleb.
The Office of the Federal President also defends the current practice. Because the Federal Cross of Merit should remain a “civil order,” “the number of members of the Bundestag who can be decorated is limited to a maximum of five percent per electoral term,” says a spokesman for the President’s Office.
This means that even 36 MPs could be honored in this legislative period, since the Bundestag has grown even larger due to the insufficient reform of the electoral law.