Only one of 118 Green MPs in the Bundestag has a craftsman’s training. This is also noticeable in laws, fear members and have started an initiative.
For Sebastian Lederer, the 2021 federal election was a double missed opportunity. As a direct candidate for the Greens, he failed to end the CDU’s long-term dominance on Lake Constance in Constance. And he also missed the goal of making a group heard that is hardly represented in the Bundestag: craftsmen.
“There are no craftsman perspectives in politics,” states Lederer, who is himself a trained carpenter. In fact, the skilled trades are threatened with a representation gap. 85.7 percent of the parliamentarians in the current Bundestag belong to the group of academics. For comparison: the proportion of university graduates in the total population is only around 32 percent.
Only one of the 118 members of the Bundestag for the Greens has a craft education
The Greens in particular show an imbalance. Only one of the 118 members of the Bundestag for the Greens can show a craft training. 5.5 million employees and one million companies are represented only by Tina Winklmann, the sports policy spokeswoman for the Greens parliamentary group, who worked as a process mechanic for plastics and rubber technology at Siemens in three shifts for more than 20 years.
Greens lack practical expertise and credibility
Other professional groups, on the other hand, are overrepresented in the parliamentary group. According to scientific studies, “employees of political and social organizations” make up 36.4 percent of the parliamentary group with 43 MPs. This is doubly problematic for the party: it lacks practical expertise and credibility – especially since the Greens have always had the reputation of being an academic party.
There was great criticism from the trades when it came to the heating law
“Identification with politics becomes difficult if some professional groups are not represented,” says Sebastian Lederer, who fears that he will become disenchanted with politics in the medium term. The lack of representation would eventually also make itself felt in political legislation. “Why is there a study foundation for students but not for trainees?” Lederer asks. There are also hardly any dormitories for trainees, but there are student dormitories in every university town.
Lederer founded the “HandwerksGrün” association three years ago in order to bring the perspectives of the skilled trades closer to the Greens. In a party that has quoted speech and election lists and has also passed a diversity statute, craftsmen should not be seen as colorful birds. “We need more networking for this,” says Lederer.
He can already point to initial successes: in 2022, a congress was held in Berlin, which was also attended by the Federal Government’s SME Commissioner, Michael Kellner (Greens). And a petition calling for maternity leave for the self-employed as well received well over 100,000 signatures and was accepted by the Petitions Committee in the Bundestag. The independent association “HandwerkGrün”, which is only financed by donations and membership fees, now has around 50 members and 300 supporters nationwide.
The self-employed in particular are often forgotten by politicians
One of them is the photographer Marcus Ziemke from Bernau near Berlin. During the pandemic, he realized that the self-employed in particular were often forgotten by politicians. “There was no short-time work allowance for us. From one day to the next, you were faced with an income gap,” he recalls. In fact, the self-employed are increasingly underrepresented in the Bundestag: Among the members of the Bundestag under the age of 40 – a total of 212 people – only 1.4 percent are self-employed.
Ziemke is convinced that more practical work experience would help with legislation. This was shown in the controversial building energy law. “It would not have been possible to technically implement the first draft in the time allotted,” he says. It is now also important to involve experts in municipal heating planning at an early stage.
Green parliamentary group leader Katharina Dröge, a graduate economist who herself negotiated the heating law for a long time, defends the current legislative process: “We took the perspective of the trades into account with the GEG, for example at the expert hearing in the Bundestag or even before that at Robert Habeck’s heat pump summit. “
But Dröge also sees a need for action to bring more craftsmen, self-employed & Co. into the Bundestag: “Of course, Parliament has to represent the broad spectrum of society, and all parliamentary groups have to work on that.”