First the German elections, then OpenOffice

German government IT consultants expect a surge in demand for open-source office application software from parliamentarians after national elections in September, said Fredo Sartori, an IT consultant working for the Bundestag, the lower house of German parliament.

In May, the Federal Ministry of the Interior granted Bundestag members the right to choose between the Office suite of software applications from Microsoft Corp. and open-source software products, such as StarOffice and OpenOffice from Sun Microsystems Inc., according to Sartori. But most parliamentarians, he said, have delayed decisions until after the elections.

The national election, which includes the chancellorship, is expected to replace between one-third and one-half of Bundestag members.

The Bundestag consists of 666 members who are each entitled to have at least four computers: two in their Berlin office, one in their local representation and one notebook.

“There’s not much happening right now but we expect plenty of requests for IT support when the new parliament assembles in early October after the September 22 elections,” Sartori said. “We have received numerous requests for information since the May decision.”

The outcome of the election will have no impact on the choice of office application software as both the ruling coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the B