AICGS Profiles: Yvonne Magwas
Mr. Mason Kane is an AICGS-Halle Foundation intern for the 2022 fall semester. He assists resident fellows with their research projects, organizes databases, and contributes to the organization and documentation of AICGS events. He is pursuing an MA in German and European Studies at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. His research interests are in European security, transatlantic policy, humanitarian mediation, migration, and German culture.
Mr. Kane is a CBYX Scholar and a graduate of Kennesaw State University with a double degree in International Affairs and German Studies. During his undergraduate studies, Mr. Kane also studied language and culture at Universität Paderborn.
Vice President of the Bundestag
The former Auerbach, Saxony, city councilwoman was elected Vice President of the Bundestag with 600 votes on October 26, 2021—the highest-ranking office left for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) since entering the opposition. Yvonne Magwas represents a new beginning for leadership in a party dominated by West Germans, where the average age is well over 60, and the number of women is slightly under 27 percent. However, she also represents the CDU’s continuity of female leadership from the former East Germany. Although ‘feminism’ and ‘CDU’ would not necessarily be associated with each other, her more progressive stance on mainstreaming gender parity in all political parties and institutions suggests a CDU adjustment to a post-Merkel Germany. Yvonne Magwas’ election as Vice President advances her political career and sends a “signal” to eastern Germans that their interests are publicly represented in Berlin.[i]
Out of the five vice presidents, four are women. Ms. Magwas and the other four vice presidents preside over parliamentary sessions while also handling personnel issues within the Bundestag administration and the conclusion of significant contracts. As vice president, she supports the incumbent Bundestag President Bärbel Bas (SPD) in her tasks but, in her words: “represents the Bundestag internally and externally.”
Yvonne Magwas was born on November 28, 1979, in Rodewisch, Vogtland. Vogtland lies in eastern Germany on the Czech border. She worked for Rudolf Braun’s (CDU) Bundestag campaign in 1998. She joined the Junge Union shortly thereafter and the CDU three years later.
Her ambition stems from her experience at Chemnitz University of Technology from 1998 to 2005, earning her sociology degree. During her studies, Ms. Magwas developed a company that matches people with suitable internships and researches human resources and organizational development. She attributes her pragmatism in politics to her eastern upbringing. In 2003, Magwas was elected Councilor in Auerbach and District Councilor in Vogtland and served in both capacities until 2009. She served as MP Robert Hochbaum’s (CDU) chief of staff from 2005 to 2013 and was a CDU research assistant, setting the path for her election into the Bundestag. Her home district of Vogtlandkreis, a considerably conservative corner of the country, was won over with Magwas campaigning to improve the compatibility of work and family life, specifically the expansion of parental leave and gender parity at the party level.
Before her leadership role within the party, Ms. Magwas voted against Germany’s implementation of same-sex marriage in 2017. Later, she endorsed Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to succeed Angela Merkel as party chair ahead of the 2018 leadership election. In addition, she has been a member of the Executive Committee and Administrative Council of the German Federal Film Board (FFA) since 2018, as well as the radio council of Deutschlandradio from 2015 to 2019. She serves on the Committee for Environment, Nature Conservation, and Building and is a member of the Berlin-Taipei Parliamentary Circle of Friends and is part of the working group on municipal policies for her CDU/CSU parliamentary group. Currently, she serves as the federal commissioner of the victims of the SED dictatorship.
Due to the risk of legislative gridlock, Yvonne Magwas started an initiative to grant the federal government more authority in battling the pandemic and to standardize actions across Germany. Regarding energy policy, Ms. Magwas recently advocated for strong sanctions against Russia in the aftermath of the Ukraine war, while her home district municipalities are urging the federal government to open energy negotiations with Russia. In addition, she supports municipal bailout packages, lower energy prices for small and medium-sized businesses, and tax relief for individuals.
However, Ms. Magwas’ political identity is grounded in CDU values, but the conservative vice president represents a progressive wing of the party. She leads the parliamentary women’s group for the CDU/CSU. Her continued advocacy for vertical gender mainstreaming inside the German political hierarchical system has led to the idea of parity-filled electoral lists. In addition, Ms. Magwas has proposed on behalf of the group that a Bundestag commission explore the possibility of a parity measure for the legislature. Before she was appointed vice president, she gained momentum on gender parity and plans to implement a required quota to achieve gender parity at the regional and national levels by 2025, arguing: “We urgently need more women in responsibility.”
She leads gender equality efforts in the Bundestag as part of a cross-party women’s organization. Even though the CDU is playing catch-up on this subject, as the SPD and Greens have already implemented gender parity, the CDU’s participation in this program should result in a more equitable representation in future elections. In the fight for parity in the Bundestag, financial incentives for state-party financing are currently being considered. According to Ms. Magwas, financially incentivizing parties if they provide proposals for party leadership based on parity could be constitutionally enforceable.
However, Ms. Magwas recognizes that quotas alone will not boost the number of women in politics, but its impact will affect women of all ages. The vice president has proposed legislation to enhance work and family life compatibility. Ms. Magwas has advocated for making it easier for Bundestag members with young children to work in the future, citing her own experiences with a toddler.[ii] She sees the bundling of votes in Parliament as a possibility. She is currently proposing an operational change in which roll-call votes are held once a day at a suitable time. By using her high-profile position to advocate for women and families, Yvonne Magwas is taking the steps to have a long-term impact on German politics.
[i] Wollschläger, Karin. „Neue Bundestagsvizepräsidentin Magwas – Überraschung ausm Osten.“ Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur GmbH, November 03, 2021.