The new Parliament of united Germany Friday ratified an international treaty that grants full sovereignty to the new nation, formally ending the special rights of its World War II victors.
Parliament also rescued plans for nationwide elections on Dec. 2 by approving a new balloting law in its first working session.The meeting at the Bundestag, a humble structure that once served as Bonn's waterworks, followed a symbolic session Thursday in Berlin and came two days after East and West Germany became one. Berlin is the new capital, but Bonn will be the parliamentary seat.
"I warmly welcome you to the waterworks," parliamentary president Rita Suessmuth joked to 144 new lawmakers from now-dissolved East Germany.
The new 663-member Parliament's approval formally ends special rights conferred on the United States, the Soviet Union, France and Britain after the Allies defeated and divided Nazi Germany in World War II.
Under the rights, the Allied powers controlled transit between sectors of Berlin and could veto any laws in the city.
That treaty already was signed in Moscow on Sept. 12 by West and East Germany and the four World War II allies.
A broad majority of government and opposition lawmakers approved the new election law by a simple show of hands. The legislation replaces an election treaty that was rejected by the Supreme Court on Sept. 29. The court said the old treaty gave unfair treatement to small parties.
The overruled treaty would have required a party to win 5 percent of the vote across Germany to earn a seat in the Bundestag.
The new law in effect sets up two separate election areas in the united Germany. Lawmakers in former East Germany will have to receive 5 percent on their own turf, rather than polling that amount across the united country.
That will give smaller parties such as the former Communist Party, which now calls itself the Party for Democratic Socialism, a better chance of winning parliamentary seats.
However, the Party for Democratic Socialism voted against the new plan, saying it opposes any minimum vote for winning parliamentary seats.