What do members of the Bundestag actually do for their money all day?
By Paul Schönlebe, Paul Hoffmann, Erik Toepfer
Berlin – What do members of the Bundestag actually do when they are not sitting in the plenary hall? Many of you have probably asked yourself this question before. We have the Dresden CDU MP Markus Reichel (53) for a day through the seemingly endless corridors of the parliament complex. So much should be revealed: In the evening the pedometers burned, heads smoked, and stomachs that were not so saturated hung between the backs of their knees.
The beginning of the day
We meet MP Markus Reichel at 11 a.m. in his office. We are far from his first date this Monday. Early in the morning he boarded the train at his “center of life” in Dresden to take part in a specialist discussion on the lifting of the Hartz IV sanctions at 9am.
After a short interview, we follow the heels of Reichel, whose day doesn’t have to end until well after the 19th today.
These packed days are not uncommon. Reichel therefore sees Berlin primarily as a workplace and does not want to take up residence here. He spends the few free hours before he goes home on Friday evening playing sports or at the hotel.
Being a parliamentarian means being the leader
In order to be able to coordinate the numerous appointments, meetings and inquiries, each parliamentarian holds an office with several employees – so by his election he automatically becomes the head. A challenge, especially since there is still a team to lead in Dresden. But: “Today I can say that I am now firmly on the saddle.”
At least Reichel doesn’t have to pay his employees, with whom he discusses the important topics of the week out of his own pocket. As with his 735 other parliamentary colleagues, he has a fixed budget at his disposal of 23,205 euros, which the Bundestag administration takes care of.
Fact is what matters on the committee
Even if no Bundestag session is scheduled for Reichel that day, the MPs are not unemployed at all. Within parliament, they are divided between a wide range of committees.
At best, the strengths of each individual come in here. “Above all, I would like to contribute my economic expertise,” says Reichel, who has joined the committees on labor and social affairs and digital affairs.
A hearing on the “Implementation of the EU directive on transparent and predictable working conditions into German law” is scheduled for today. Each MP has six minutes to question the invited experts.
Most of them are connected from home, sitting in their kitchen or living room. This reduces the professional aspect of the event at least as much as the technical problems that continue to occur.
From appointment to appointment, that can take time!
Reichel also doesn’t have to worry about too little exercise between his appointments this Monday. The Bundestag complex alone is incredibly spacious.
A whole labyrinth of tunnels and bridges connects the various buildings with each other, partly by airport-like moving roads. There is little time to enjoy the impressive architecture and the excellent view.
And yet Reichel also likes to walk to his other appointments, “if I can arrange it. Berlin is not a beautiful city, but it is an interesting city in itself.”
You eat when it doesn’t fit
Even a member of the Bundestag is sometimes hungry. But nursing it is not so easy. Anyone who expects high-quality food in the Bundestag complex will be disappointed.
When Reichel finally manages to shovel 15 minutes to eat at 2.45pm, the most beautiful canteen, the so-called “lamp shop”, has long since closed. In the adjoining snack there is still slow soup and sticky buns, decorated with the usual Prussian friendship. Good Appetite …
In the plenary session, Reichel takes a pen
Markus Reichel spends only a fraction of his life as a Member of Parliament in the plenary, which is certainly the best-known motive in the House. Today he’s just getting into it because we’re recording a few sequences with him for our documentary, which will appear on the TAG24 Instagram channel later today.
When parliament convenes, Reichel, as a rookie, doesn’t just sit in the back row. He is one of a total of 66 secretaries who alternate with Bundestag president Bärbel Bas (54, SPD) on the board of directors, accept applications and requests to speak, read documents, keep lists of speakers or determine the results of votes.
Goodbye, but far from closing time
In the afternoon it’s time to say goodbye to Markus Reichel. After several hours together, he bids farewell to the extensive involvement of his House of Representatives. Two internal nominations with the CDU / CSU parliamentary group are still pending. It starts again tomorrow at 8 p.m.
You can find out more about Markus Reichel in An interview with him published today on TAG24.
Cover photo: Paul Hoffmann