Bundestag opens job centre for unemployed liberal MPs and staffers

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Germany's labour office set up a shop in parliament yesterday (25 September) to advise hundreds of liberal employees cast adrift by Sunday's election, which left the Free Democratic Party unrepresented in the Bundestag (lower house) for the first time since 1949.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's junior coalition partner was booted out of parliament when it missed the 5% threshold for seats (see background). The FDP has served in more governments than either of the two biggest parties, the conservatives and Social Democrats.

But the outcome of the latest election was bad news for the free-market party's 93 lawmakers, including five cabinet ministers, and for their 650 staffers.

The queue to talk to the 30 unemployment agency advisers sent to parliament stretched down a hallway, where glum people filled out forms and, asked about job prospects, shook their heads.

"It can't get much worse than this," said a 32-year-old FDP staffer who declined to give his name. "We can put all our work from the past four years through the paper shredder."

He said FDP workers had received dozens of emails mocking their fate since the election, "but the computers are being turned off in the next few days anyway".

Andreas Ebeling, spokesman for the labour office, said many FDP people could network to find work with non-governmental organisations or in political and business consultancy roles.

Failing that, he said, there might be job opportunities with Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), who boosted their share of the vote and will have 74 more seats in the lower house – presuming Merkel finds a new governing coalition partner.

The German federal election took place 22 September 2013, and determined the 630 members of the 18th Bundestag, the main federal legislative house of Germany.

The Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel won their best result since 1990, with nearly 42% of the vote and nearly 311of the seats. However, their coalition partner the Free Democrats (FDP) failed to get over 5% of the vote thus denying them seats in the Bundestag for the first time in their history.

As a result, Merkel will have to look to the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) for a grand coalition, or to the Greens to form a majority government, though the latter option is seen as less likely by both parties. SPD have 192 seats, The Left (Die Linke) have 64 and the Greens 63. While a coalition of SPD, Die Linke and the Greens would have enough seats for a majority, both the SPD and Greens have ruled out entering coalition with Die Linke.

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