The Plenum

The Plenum
The Plenum
© Landtag Brandenburg
The Plenum is the full assembly of the members of the Landtag elected by the people. Composed of all the members of the Landtag, the Plenum is both the centre and the symbol of parliamentary democracy. The decisions of the Landtag are taken in the Plenum. For these reasons, the Plenum is often simply called “the Landtag”.

The procedure of a plenary session is bindingly regulated in the Rules of Procedure of the Landtag. The President of the Landtag or her deputy opens and chairs the plenary session. She is assisted in chairing the session by the secretaries of the Landtag, who sit to the right and left of the President or her deputy.

At the beginning of each session, the MPs vote on the draft agenda prepared in advance by the Presiding Committee. Immediately afterwards, the so-called Aktuelle Stunde (debate on topical matters), usually takes place, in which matters of current Land policy are discussed. This makes it possible for controversial political issues to be discussed in the parliament without much delay. Due to the topicality of the issues addressed and the strict limitation of the speaking time, the Aktuelle Stunde is particularly interesting for the public and the representatives of the press who are present.

The Aktuelle Stunde is usually followed by the Fragestunde (question time), in which the MPs can put current individual questions from the area of Land politics and the administration to the Land government. The Fragestunde should not take more than 60 minutes.

Afterwards, those topics are dealt with which have been marked as priorities by the parliamentary groups. Each parliamentary group can nominate one item for discussion per session cycle to be dealt with in a priority block immediately after the Fragestunde.

Immediately after this, draft bills are discussed and passed in so-called readings. At the end of the first reading, a majority vote may decide to refer the bill to the relevant expert committee for further work. Bills and treaties are usually debated in two readings. Laws to amend the constitution, the Budget Act (Haushaltsgesetz) and its amendments always require a third reading, otherwise a third reading may be requested by a parliamentary group or at least one fifth of the members of parliament.

The readings of the bills are followed by the major interpellations. Major interpellations, which may be tabled by a parliamentary group or at least one fifth of the members of parliament, first have to be answered in writing by the Land government. The interpellation and the answer are then discussed in the Landtag. They mainly concern Land-wide problems or special subject-specific matters of supra-regional importance.

The major interpellations are followed by the debates on reports, briefings and concepts of the Land government.

Afterwards, motions and independent motions for resolutions are discussed. The aim of motions for resolutions is to induce the Land government to take certain action on a specific matter – also vis-à-vis the Bundesrat. The Land government is not legally bound by this – as is generally the case with simple resolutions of the Landtag – but merely politically bound. They cannot be used to force the Land government to behave in a certain way.