Longest-serving Vice-President: Petra Pau
© German Bundestag/Stella von Saldern
Petra Pau (The Left Party) has served as a Vice-President of the German Bundestag since 7 April 2006. She was re-elected to this position by the Bundestag on 26 October 2021. Pau has been a Member of the Bundestag since 1998. In the elections to the Bundestag on 26 September 2021 she was re-elected via her party’s list for Berlin, representing the constituency of Berlin-Marzahn-Hellersdorf.
In 2006 Petra Pau was the second candidate nominated by her parliamentary group for the post of Vice-President and was elected by the Bundestag in the first ballot, after the group’s original candidate, Professor Lothar Bisky, had failed to receive the necessary number of votes in four rounds of voting.
Deputy chairwoman of the Left Party parliamentary group
Petra Pau was born in Berlin on 9 August 1963. After completing General Polytechnic School she worked as head of a school Pioneer group and qualified to teach German and art. She joined the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) in 1983, from which emerged the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) in 1990 and, subsequently, the Left Party PDS. She worked as a teacher and head of a school Pioneer group until 1985. Pau subsequently studied at the SED’s higher-education institute, graduating in social science in 1988.
She was a Member of Berlin House of Representatives for the PDS from 1995 to 1998. In 1998 she was directly elected to the Bundestag to represent the Berlin-Mitte/Prenzlauer Berg constituency. Pau served as deputy chairwoman of the PDS parliamentary group from 2000 to 2002. In the 2002-2005 electoral term, when the PDS did not have a parliamentary group in the Bundestag after failing to achieve the five per cent of the vote required for representation, she was again directly elected and sat as an unattached Member. Since October 2005 she has again served as deputy chairwoman of the parliamentary group with responsibility for the areas of civil rights and democracy.
Re-appraisal of the GDR past
Re-appraising life in the GDR is important to Pau: “Of course my past is typical for someone who grew up in the GDR, I was a teacher and Pioneer leader in East Berlin. It is my past which drives me today in my commitment to a democratic society, and I reject any suggestion that this is not the case or even possible.”
As Vice-President of the Bundestag, she seeks to defend democracy and civil rights in particular, Pau says, adding that, although she does not intend to be an apolitical Vice-President, she strives to be impartial in her conduct of the Bundestag’s sittings.