German opposition warns of pointless Parliament

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BERLIN (AP) — Germany's opposition warned Tuesday that the country's Parliament could become redundant because a planned left-right government would have enough seats to rule almost unchallenged.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Union bloc won 311 of the 631 seats in the lower house last month, followed by the center-left Social Democrats with 193. The two parties are currently negotiating a "grand coalition" that would give them almost 80 percent of seats in the Bundestag.

Legal experts have pointed out that such a coalition would easily be able to push through laws and even have the two-thirds majority needed to propose changes to the constitution of Europe's biggest economy.

The opposition Left Party and Greens also lack the 25 percent of votes needed to launch parliamentary investigations or have the country's highest court review legislation.

Left Party leader Gregor Gysi noted that under a grand coalition the government would have the right to speak for 48 minutes out of every hour.

"If essentially it's just people patting each other on the back then we can give up on the whole thing," he told rbb-Inforadio ahead of Parliament's first meeting Tuesday.

The biggest challenge during Merkel's third term could come from the upper house, or Bundesrat, where a grand coalition wouldn't have an automatic majority. It represents Germany's 16 states and can delay the passage of bills.

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