Conservatives look set to lead Berlin’s new city government after Social Democrats’ consent
rbb / taz
The city of Berlin has edged a decisive step closer to a new government coalition led by the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), after the incumbent Social Democrats (SPD) gave the green light to form a new government as junior partners to the CDU in an internal vote. The decision, favoured by about 54 percent of SPD members, will likely lead to the dissolvement of the current government coalition led by SPD mayor Franziska Giffey with the Green Party and the Left Party. The CDU’s top candidate Kai Wegner will be the new head of government of the German capital. The CDU still needs to approve the new coalition government but looks set to rubberstamp the deal (today, 24 April) that would end more than 22 years of SPD-led governments in the city and give the conservatives their first Berlin mayor since 2001, public broadcaster rbb reported. The deal had been heavily criticised by the SPD’s youth organisation Jusos, which argued that continuing the left-leaning coalition with the Greens and the Left Party would have offered more potential for implementing SPD policies. Mayor Giffey had countered critics that the coalition agreement with the CDU contains many social policy improvements, including housing construction, a reform of the administration and 10 billion euros in climate action investments towards reaching climate neutrality by 2045, newspaper taz wrote.
Wegner, when presenting the draft coalition treaty in early April, had said supporting the transport transition with an expansion of public transport options and climate action will be key goals of the new government. However, “people driving around in a car will also be accommodated by us,” Wegner said. Regarding a controversial highway project that would cut right through the city centre and is supported by his party, the CDU candidate said a referendum could be an option to settle the dispute. In a survey in 2022, a majority of responding citizens said they would welcome a new highway in the city and about one third said they would use their car more often if the project went ahead. In a recent referendum on aiming for climate neutrality in Berlin by 2030, only 18 percent of the electorate supported the proposal.