BERLIN - A former wrestler, an ex-TV detective, Germany's first African-born federal politician and a record number of women entered parliament Tuesday, one month after Chancellor Angela Merkel won elections.
The first Bundestag session since the September 22 vote was largely ceremonial as Merkel was to be confirmed as head of a caretaker government while she hammers out a coalition deal with the defeated Social Democrats (SPD).
Those talks kick off Wednesday after Merkel's conservatives and the centre-left party last week formally committed themselves to seeking a "grand coalition" government, a process of political haggling that could drag on for many weeks.
Officially Merkel and her outgoing government were to be discharged from their posts later Tuesday by President Joachim Gauck, even though they will keep ruling until her Christian Democrats (CDU) find partners for a new governing majority.
In an unusual twist, cabinet ministers from Merkel's former allies the pro-business Free Democrats were to stay on in their posts for now but had to sit in the visitors' gallery Tuesday after their party crashed out of parliament in the election.
As the new 631-member lower house of parliament gathered under the huge glass dome of the Reichstag building in Berlin, about one-third of the legislators were newcomers.
The new parliament, the 18th in post-war Germany, has a record number of women, at 36 per cent, and of legislators with migrant backgrounds, at 5.9 per cent, a ratio that is however only one-third of the nationwide statistic.
One new face that drew much attention was that of former wrestling bad guy Matthias Ilgen, 29, who has swapped the black cape and fake sword he wore in the ring for suit and tie to do battle on the floor of parliament for the SPD.
Another professional entertainer turned political pro is Charles M. Huber, 56, who long played a cop in the popular German TV series "Der Alte" and has now entered parliament for the CDU.
The son of a German woman and a Senegalese diplomat told the Tageszeitung daily that he picked a Harley-Davidson motorcycle as his official vehicle, which he however said he does not plan to ride to work until the summer.
Another newcomer was Germany's first African-born national legislator, the SPD's Karamba Diaby, 51, a trained chemist who also hails from Senegal and who represents Halle, a district in the formerly communist east.