Berlin election campaign: rivals for the red town hall | Free press

Everything was clearer. At least that’s what Brigitte Dersch thinks. “This democracy, in which everyone has something to say, is terrible,” says Dersch. This morning, the Berliner is pretty much right in the middle of the metropolis, if not geographically, historically.

Here, east of Alexanderplatz, a small piece of the medieval city wall has been preserved. Next to it is a row of pretty little houses, one of which houses the “Last Instance” – a restaurant often touted as the oldest in town. In truth, an HO restaurant was rebuilt from a ruin here in East Berlin in the 1960s. A perfect backdrop that is still used for political drama today.

This morning Franziska Giffey is expected in front of the “last instance”, also of Brigitte Dersch, who wants to get an idea. This is the electoral campaign twice in Berlin – on September 26, it is not only about the Bundestag, but also about power in the Rotes Rathaus. Berliners elect their state parliament, which is called here the House of Representatives. “And this time, you are really wondering what to do”, explains Brigitte Dersch.

In fact, the situation has rarely been so confusing, and not just because 34 parties are standing for election, more than ever before. There are other reasons: just like voters across the country, Berliners face the situation in their city where no incumbent is available for the elections. The race is therefore open, no one benefits from the official bonus.

Even though the trend towards the end, as in the last four elections, has always turned to the SPD in a friendly manner, this time the Social Democrats and the Greens were often close in various polls, followed by the Union and the Left party. The FDP and the AfD also come to parliament. As in the federal government, a bipartisan alliance would not currently have a majority. Mathematically, the odds are good for the red-red-green coalition to “continue”. But what does that mean? A coalition of the SPD, CDU and FDP seems to be more than a theoretical possibility in recent weeks.

And this is also due to the particular situation of the candidates: if you start from scratch, it is easier to say goodbye to the legacy of the predecessor – and to distance oneself from its failures. In addition, as in the federal government, the Greens present their own leading candidate and thus challenge the SPD’s claim to lead an alliance. With this plan, however, they had already crashed once in 2011 in Berlin.

Mayor-Governor Michael Müller (SPD) will no longer stand for re-election after 2016, aiming instead for the Bundestag. The first attempt at a red-red-green coalition under the leadership of the SPD, once celebrated by comrades as a progressive project, tired him of his duties.

Her left-wing SPD elected Franziska Giffey, who is more in the right wing of the party, as the top candidate – and was not bothered that the candidate stepped down as Federal Minister for Families shortly long before her appointment because she lost her doctorate due to deception.

The math was clear: no one has a higher profile than Giffey, she has been linked to Berlin since she was district mayor in Neukölln and has made a name for herself there with a sort of civic and lively pragmatism. spirit.

Now Giffey stands in front of the “final instance” in the summer sun and begins a “neighborhood walk”. She has the district town hall explain to him the renovation projects in progress, shows a historian of the city old maps, listens to a gentleman from a citizens’ initiative and to a lady from an association of the elderly. .

Even though she has no office or mandate, the images of her time in the federal government still have an impact: she just looks like someone with the political power to decide something. Your election campaign is designed to reinforce that impression. “Business of the boss” is written there in large letters.

This also works for Brigitte Dersch. She lived here for a long time in the old city center, a prominent residential area during the GDR era. Much has changed since: the Palast der Republik has given way to a replica of a castle, flanked by townhouses that serve as residences for a few creditworthy people. The traffic is hellish in Leipziger Straße, anyone who wants to cycle here – and more and more Berliners want to – is putting their life in danger. Even here, in the middle of Berlin, which is anything but a typical neighborhood, there are two of the big problems: the inability to find an affordable apartment. And the need for a change in mobility.

Dersch, who has always been loyal to Die Linke, can imagine voting for Giffey this time around. “You trust him to do it,” she said. Why? It may have less to do with the SPD candidate and more with the change of the left into a large urban youth party, of which Brigitte Dersch no longer feels represented. “Today’s left is different,” she said, almost a bit like the Greens. This impression is more damaging to the left in the once divided city; despite their favorite candidate Klaus Lederer, they hover at 14%.

According to recent polls, the Greens have once again fallen out of favor, now standing at 17%. And blasphemous tongues: where would the party be if it had chosen a popular candidate? Instead, they compete with Bettina Jarasch. The 52-year-old Catholic is originally from Augsburg and has lived in Berlin for many years. She was once the country manager and was part of a team of top contenders in 2016. But many Berliners cannot associate anything with the name. Jarasch ranks behind Giffey in terms of personal popularity rating. Only CDU country leader and first candidate Kai Wegner is worse.

“Building bridges” is actually candidate Jarasch’s motto – the hope associated with it is clear: he must appeal to middle-class voters beyond their own camp. However, the candidate works in her own suite. It’s a Thursday afternoon, Jarasch is in the middle of Prenzlauer Berg on the organic market. There is hardly any green filter bubble. The citizens smile in a friendly manner, there is no controversial debate, people like to pick up a leaflet, even though the decision to vote seems to have been made.

Only Bettina Jarasch, she doesn’t smile. She should speak in front of a camera, she has 15 seconds to say why Berliners should vote green. And write a crisis scenario. She wants the city to be completely converted into a climate neutral metropolis. “This is absolutely necessary so that people can still be on the streets in the future.” Bettina Jarasch gets tangled up, has to start over several times – you can tell that attacks are not her favorite form of communication. Berliners, she said, must choose between change and the status quo.

There is no time for the subject of life at all – Jarasch is not the only one to call this point the “great social question” of the city. The brutal housing market has radicalized Berliners so much that on September 26 there will be a third vote: the city’s residents will vote in a referendum on the plan to “socialize” large housing groups with more than 3,000 apartments – in German, against an expropriated compensation. The plan is potentially unconstitutional and would cost several billion. But whoever moves into the Red Town Hall will have to face the referendum result.

The Greens have a position here which will put off some bourgeois voters: Bettina Jarasch will vote for expropriation – as a means of pressure. She wants to make a pact with the owners, the rents should be frozen, the dividends should be invested in new buildings. In return, owners should receive funds and land. “I don’t see this as blackmail,” she said.

As the election campaign develops, the Greens urgently need to focus on distinguishing and attacking. Because Franziska Giffey started to name “red lines”. She doesn’t want to live in a city that sends the signal for expropriation, she told RBB and called this a crucial condition for coalition talks. The Greens have had bad experiences with such conditions in the past. In 2011, Klaus Wowereit allowed coalition talks on the further construction of the A 100 urban motorway to fail.

The left also suspects Franziska Giffey of applying for a conservative coalition with the CDU and the FDP. Kai Wegner of the CDU will have been delighted. However, if such a plan were to exist in Giffey’s head, there are still two major obstacles in the way. One of them is the SPD itself – the candidate would need the approval of a state party conference, and the Social Democrats have vivid memories of the last red-black alliance. The second hurdle is choice: it is not yet decided whether Franziska Giffey will cross the finish line in first place.

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