The way for the formation of a grand coalition in Berlin between the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was cleared late Monday afternoon. Two and a half months after the elections, the 275 CDU delegates present voted in favor of the alliancewith no votes against or abstentions and only one day after 54.3% of SPD members agree to a coalition which represents a change of political course in the German capital and whose first movement implies that Kai Wegner be elected this Thursday as the the city’s first Conservative mayor since 2001.
Berlin, one of the bastions of the left in Germany, is facing a new political horizon that, for the moment, has caused a deep split among the social democrats in the capital. In the background, the determination of the still mayor of the city, the social democrat Franziska Giffeywho, in the face of the debacle he suffered at the polls, accepted the message launched by the citizens and sacrificed a possible alliance with the left of Die Linke and the Los Verdes party, as well as his position in the city council, to make way for Wegner who, clearly, won the elections. However, it is not clear that the conservative leader will win all the votes of the CDU and the SPD on Thursday. The road is intuited full of obstacles, long before the march has begun.
Waiting for what can happen from now on, it is significant that only one of the Social Democrats shows relief and joy. Giffey has achieved the government alliance she desired and, from the press of Berlin, it is said that “it is not about love, but about reason”. It is not possible to speak of shared visions and, from the SPD, it is pointed out that they want to assume responsibility despite the fact that, taking a look at the Social Democratic vote, it can be seen that the party accepted this alliance with pain, taking into account the low involvement. From the CDU, the ambition to govern is clear and that is why theWegner’s position has been one of caution so as not to jeopardize the yes of the members of the SPD. However, everything indicates that the conflicts are yet to come.
The SPD will closely monitor how social will be the rental policy under a conservative mayor, if the promise is fulfilled climate protection or if the ambitious plan to provide the city with more bicycle lanes continues. In addition, the social administration will continue to struggle with the accommodation of thousands of refugees and an almost endless and thankless struggle for integration pathways. In health policy, after the pandemic, the thorny problems of health care continue, from overloaded hospitals to a lack of nursing specialists. However, urban development is likely to be the most difficult: the energy crisis and rising prices threaten years of stagnation in the construction industry. Experts fear that the construction of new buildings will collapse and only the booming economy of Berlin promises positive headlines until 2026.
Wegner’s ambition is for Berliners to regain confidence in politics and that is why, after the vote, he thanked the SPD for the talks held to reach the agreement. The 50-year-old, born in Spandau, sat in the Bundestag for a long time, far removed from Berlin’s state politics. In the traditionally divided CDU in the capital, Wegner was always a power factor and now has three and a half years to prove that surprisingly high victory in the repetition of the elections -plus ten percentage points- it was not a historical coincidencebut it would be possible to reissue it in 2026. Wegner wants to unite the torn city, wants to end the discussion between motorists and cyclists or between residents of the periphery and the interior.
After the approval of both, both parties left the distribution of portfolios ready. According to information from the RBB, Berlin’s public broadcaster, the CDU will keep the portfolios of Justice, Environment, Culture, Finance and Educationwhile the Social Democrats will cover Economy (which would pass into the hands of Giffey), Housing, Interior, Health and the portfolio of Integration, Labor and Social Affairswhich will be expanded to include the areas of diversity and the fight against discrimination.