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#153: Coalition talks, crooked cops, more expensive public transport
And a few election hiccups.
Hey 20 Percent!
A week ago I wouldn’t have thought the conservative CDU would have even a statistical chance of appointing Berlin’s next mayor but now I’ve got the feeling their chance is good — not great — maybe 50/50, which is a weird feeling. The CDU won the re-election in that they got more votes than any other party but of course Berlin is always ruled by a coalition and so the real winner is whichever coalition is able to form a stable government.
As I write, the CDU is talking with the center-left SPD about forming a coalition and they will then chat with the environmental Die Grüne. The SPD currently leads Berlin’s coalition with Die Grüne and the leftist Die Linke and appointed the mayor (Franziska Giffey) — becoming a junior partner would take some convincing and concessions by the CDU.
But let’s not forget that Giffey’s favored coalition partners ahead of the flubbed election in September 2021 were the business-friendly FDP and the Grüne — pivoting to the CDU rather than the FDP is not hard to imagine.
My honest feeling is that Berlin is about to end up with what’s known as a Grand Coalition of the CDU and SPD, Germany’s two historically dominant parties. But I also have a feeling the current three-way government could also just amble on.
My feelings, it must be said, are often wrong.
Have a good weekend!
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S-Bahn service returning to normal, U2 still fuxxored
Probably the only nicer Berlin feeling than finally landing an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde is when the Schienenersatzverkehr (bus replacement service) on your morning commute ends and the normal train service resumes. Thousands (tens of thousands?) will get that feeling Friday night at 10pm when the generically named Nord-Süd-Tunnel re-opens, returning the S1, S2, S25 und S26 to normal service. Next up, the U2 at Alex, which should return to normal service in the fall — developer Covivio first has to complete a €10 million revamp that will shore up the U2’s tunnel by injecting cement below it. RBB24 has a cute video explaining what happened and how it’ll be repaired, and the video probably makes sense without German.
Public transport prices going up
And after that good feeling, how about a bad feeling? Public transport prices will go up April 1 by an average of 5.6%, because of the energy crisis that somehow wasn’t actually an energy crisis. A single AB ticket for either the S-Bahn or BVG services will cost €3.20 rather than €3 and ABC will also go up €0.20 to €4. The monthly cost of an annual ABC subscription will be €88 and an AB subscription €66.90, up from €63.42 — it’s €29 now thanks to the Berlin government, which partially extended the summer’s €9 regional ticket. It’s sort of moot because a €49 ticket will be available nationwide beginning May 1 that will give access to all public transport nationwide as well as regional Deutsche Bahn trains.
Usual election bugs
Berlin’s re-election Sunday experienced a few glitches which you can file under: Normal glitches, which is a good feeling. One election office in Lichtenberg discovered an overlooked sack of 466 mail-in ballots, which left German media screeching that Berlin had again flubbed its election but anyone who’s paid attention to other elections knows that kind of thing happens. Once counted, the votes didn’t really affect the election. And, in Kreuzberg, a handful of votes for Die Linke were reportedly swapped with votes for Die Grüne. A regular check discovered the mistake, which was then corrected. Berlin can do do-overs. Let’s hope they get it right the next time.
When cops are crooks
A handful of police officers at Direktion 5 (5th precinct) aren’t feeling so great after they came under investigation, one for accepting bribes and another for pocketing cocaine seized as evidence and then using it to party with two other cops(!), according to Tagesspiegel. The precinct is responsible for Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Mitte and northern Neukölln. The first officer accepted money to check for information in police computers about his client — for example, whether they were under investigation. In the second case, a 44-year-old detective had her house searched and police said they found more cocaine-like substances. Berlin’s police union, which loves to comment on any- and everything, said the cases just prove cops are human too and, like some humans, some of them like money and blow too (I’m paraphrasing).
Legendary West Berlin mayor Willy Brandt was elected to his third mayoral term on this day in 1963. He would leave the position in 1966 to become German foreign minister and vice chancellor before himself becoming chancellor in 1969. He’s best-known for falling to his knees during a 1970 visit to Warsaw, Poland, which has long been seen as a gesture of asking for forgiveness for the Second World War. The SPD’s national headquarters in central Berlin are named after him (and is where the above statue is located).
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