New police law in lower saxony: vanity and paranoia

The Lower Saxony state parliament passes a tougher police law. Not without a hefty exchange of blows between the deputies.

The "hard dog" and his drone: CDU interior politician Uwe Schunemann Photo: dpa

When Uwe Schunemann, CDU member of parliament and former interior minister of Lower Saxony, speaks of criminal gangs "who rake in money and even use child pornography and child abuse to do so," even guests in the gallery have to laugh. Schunemann does not make a plea for better child protection or, for example, tougher action against sex offenders on Tuesday in Lower Saxony’s state parliament.

With his words, the security politician, who is regarded as a hardliner ("Better a tough dog than a warmist" – Schunemann about Schunemann), justifies the police law, which grants the state power more rights. Critics, however, see it as an attempt to massively curtail civil rights.

On Tuesday, after a lively debate, the state parliament approved the "danger prevention law" with the votes of the CDU and SPD. This result was to be expected. For about a year, Lower Saxony has been debating the law’s 35 days of preventive detention for people who are believed to be about to commit a crime. Also included in the law: Surveillance of demos and other public events, filming with body cams on police uniforms, automatic scanning of license plates, and the use of state Trojans on private computers and smartphones.

All of this is a thorn in the side of the Greens and the FDP; as expected, the parliamentary groups voted against the law and repeated their threat to file a standards control complaint. Surprisingly, they have now been joined by the AfD, which also rejects the law because it is not tough enough. In addition, the group does not support the use of stun guns. However, the party would like to join the lawsuit before the state court in Buckeburg.

5 votes missing for action to control norms

This puts the Greens and FDP in a tight spot. For such a lawsuit to be accepted by the state court, the plaintiffs need one-fifth of the votes of the state parliament, which would be 28. Together, however, the two groups have only 23 votes. It is relatively unlikely that the Greens and FDP will obtain the missing 5 votes from the AfD. Thus, the announced lawsuit could remain more of a threat.

In their criticism of the law, the Greens and FDP continued to be implacable. For the Green Belit Onay, it is a "disaster law". "With the state Trojan, the state is turning itself into a hacker," said his party’s domestic policy spokesman: "Fundamental rights are subject to technology."

FDP member of parliament Stefan Birkner assessed the police law as "extremely poor in terms of craftsmanship" and also as a lousy compromise between the CDU and SPD: "The SPD has allowed itself to be driven by the CDU." With this, Birkner aimed at the bad relationship between the current SPD Interior Minister Boris Pistorius and his CDU predecessor Schunemann.

"Just look at your performance".

The two likewise exchanged blows. It had not always been easy between him and Pistorius, Schunemann said, "But this is not about vanity." That prompted loud laughter from the Green Party ranks. Birkner of the FDP interjected: "It’s not about vanity? Just take a look at your performance, Mr. Schunemann."

Excessive speaking time, heckling, interposed questions. The president of the state parliament, Gabriela Andretta, has some trouble calming the waves: "I ask for calm.

In the end, Interior Minister Pistorius sits in his seat, his head high and after sentences like this, "I don’t suffer from paranoia like some others from this high house."

The roll call vote then lasts a full eight minutes.

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