When you walk into the building complex in Berlin which comprises the German Parliament, you see modern architecture, art and history exhibits, casually dressed staff (young and old), cafés, restaurants, ATMs, solar panels, books, underground tunnels, etc. It’s kinda funny, but the first thought I had as I wandered down the hallway to the History of the Reichstag exhibit was, “This reminds me of Google’s campus in California.”
I didn’t see any goats mowing the lawn or communal bikes with Chrome wheels, but German Parliament is pretty hip!
Weather and Silicon Valley startup culture aside, there appears to be a functioning body of representatives making laws here!
A Few Observations
Some unique (albeit clever, and slightly humorous) things I learned about how the Parliament is run:
- There are special indicators on clocks and other fixtures throughout the complex which, depending on their color, indicate whether Members of Parliament need to be physically present on the floor for a vote. Apparently it’s not uncommon to see people running from all over the complex to the floor when these votes are on!
- If the winning vote for a bill can’t be determined merely by a show of hands, the Members leave the floor and then enter again one by one through special doors marked Enthaltung, Ja, and Nein — abstain, yes, and no.
I’ve never been to Washington, D.C., but it’s hard to believe the stodgy United States government has done anything like this!
Take the Tour!
If you’re ever in Berlin you should definitely book a tour of the Parliament; Germany is doing a lot of things right and the Parliament is a great place to see and feel where some of that takes place.