Ultimately, it is "his majesty, the elector" who decides, who will belong to the future federal parliament. The parties have this last uncertainty, and they have to live with it. But they can make preliminary decisions, and they are already doing so – a good year before the vote.
In the fall of next year, the parliament in berlin will be newly appointed. One woman will certainly not be a member of the bundestag: susanne kastner, a member of the bundestag from maroldsweisach, has already announced that she will no longer be standing for election. The 65-year-old retires from politics. In 1989, she was elected to the german parliament for the first time, at that time as a latecomer, and was confirmed in all subsequent elections.
A say in the matter
Susanne kastner would not be susanne kastner if she did not want to have a say in who should be her successor. Sabine dittmar, the 47-year-old member of the state parliament from mabbach (bad kissingen district). Since 2008, the doctor has had a seat and a vote in munich, and if susanne kastner and the SPD in the region have their way, sabine dittmar will move to berlin.
Before going to berlin and the vote of the electorate, the 47-year-old must take the hurdles within her own party. According to dittmar and kastner, the three district associations of the social democrats in the bad kissingen electoral district (which comprises the three counties of habberge, bad kissingen and rhon-grabfeld) are behind sabine dittmar's candidacy for berlin. So she could be sure that she would be the direct candidate for the constituency. To win the direct mandate, she had to beat CSU candidate dorothee bar (from ebelsbach), who has already been nominated by her party. That will be difficult or even impossible, because bar is considered the clear favorite. The SPD in bavaria is finding it extremely difficult to win direct seats. That might be possible for a popular politician in a metropolitan area like munich, but in rural areas the chances are slim.
Goal: a place among the top ten on the state list
So: sabine dittmar will have to try it via the state list of her party. She wants to run for the first place in the election of the candidates in the district of lower franconia. If she succeeds, she also has a chance of gaining a top position on the bavarian state list, which is crucial for a seat in the bundestag. The 47-year-old doctor is aiming for a place among the top ten.
Currently, the bavarian SPD has 16 representatives in berlin. She has also had 30 parliamentarians before. A place on the list among the top ten would definitely be a safe rank for the mabbacherin. Susanne kastner came in second in the last federal election, it doesn't get much safer than that.
Sabine dittmar can rely on susanne kastner's backing. "She will be my successor, said susanne kastner on friday (14. August) at a press conference in habfurt about her party colleague. Sabine dittmar has "every chance", the maroldsweisach resident declared. She considers the doctor from mabbach to be the most suitable parliamentarian in berlin.
She believes she can achieve more at the federal level
Sabine dittmar has decided in favor of berlin. She believes that as an expert on health policy and consumer protection, she can make more of a difference in the bundestag than in munich. According to her, federal laws and regulations dominate the health issue, she has found out. Although, as she said yesterday, she was able to achieve some things in the state parliament in munich, she wants to make the change and look to the future. "I like to go my own way", the 47-year-old said in habfurt.
She is not afraid that she could fall into a hole if she loses the election. She liked being a doctor and, in view of the current situation, would quickly be able to work as a doctor again if things don't work out in berlin.
Kastner looks back
Susanne kastner once made several attempts before she was elected to the bundestag in 1989. She will have been a member of the german parliament for almost 25 years when she retires in the fall of 2013. "I had an exciting time, she said yesterday, and "could make a difference. On the whole, it has been a successful few years", she summed up.
She likes to remember very rough moments, such as a meeting with nelson mandela in south africa. But there was also work that "cost her strength". She is referring in particular to her work as chairman of the committee of inquiry that investigated the firing on two tankers in afghanistan, which resulted in many deaths.
In her opinion, the future work in the bundestag will not be any easier. Euro rescue, healthcare and energy policy will be major challenges in the future.