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#220: Housing instead of golfing, Israel attack-related protests, car dealer buys historic building
And the rise of the AfD in recent elections
Hey 20 Percent,
The city of Munich Sunday proved that it’s possible to both hold a marathon and an election, so they’re one up on us there but the results? Well they’re not so great. The election was actually throughout the entire state of Bavaria and the right-wing AfD came in third with 14.6% — a record. In a simultaneous election in the state of Hesse — home to Frankfurt am Main — the anti-everything party came in second with 18.4%.
Until the two elections it was easy to write off the AfD as a quirk in the former East Germany, left over from cultural differences unaddressed by reunification. But the party now seems to have a foothold even in the west (to be fair, it was founded as an anti-euro party in the Frankfurt a.M. suburb of Oberursel in 2013).
What does the rise of the AfD mean for us immigrants? It institutionalizes an undercurrent of anti-immigrant sentiment and gives voice to an unseemly minority. The party openly opposes dual citizenship and wants to keep the Muslim religion out of Germany. I’d link to their platform but I’d rather not.
On the other hand, I’m reassured by the fact that the party is also an easy protest vote — and only part of that protest likely has to do with Germany’s immigration policy. There are plenty of reasons people could be mad at the current administration and, hopefully, in the next federal election in 2025, their votes will return to more sensible parties. Hopefully.
And there are some signs of this: Neither election will likely change the current ruling coalitions in Bavaria (a conservative cuddle-fest between the CSU (the CDU’s sister party) and the Freie Wähler) or Hesse (a marriage of convenience between the CDU and the Grüne). It feels like voters are saying they’re happy with their local governments, but unhappy with Berlin.
Let’s hope the more centered parties can do more to address voters’ concerns by the next federal election and put the AfD back where they belong — obscurity. And also let’s hope Berlin too can learn to hold an election and a marathon on the same day.
Have a good week.
P.S. A warm welcome to our new sponsor, expat-friendly insurance provider, Feather.
Protests following terrorist attack on Israel
The attack by Hamas militants on Israel Saturday has led to several clashes in Berlin, the latest involving a 61-year-old teacher at Ernst-Abbe-Gymnasium and a 15-year-old student. The two pressed assault charges against each other after the teacher tried to stop a masked 14-year-old from parading around school grounds with a Palestine flag on Monday, according to the Polizei. The teacher can be seen in a widely distributed video taking a swing at the student, who responds by kicking the teacher in the stomach. Security has now been stationed at the school. The altercation followed a 2,000-strong demonstration Sunday at Brandenburg Gate to show solidarity with Israel and victims of the attack. And police Saturday broke up an illegal demonstration in favor of the attack in Neukölln at the intersection of Reuterstraße and Sonnenallee.
Housing instead of golfing?
It’s an interesting thought experiment: Green politicians want to build new housing on three supposedly public golf courses in Berlin that would offer slightly less area than the area proposed for construction on the borders of the former Tempelhof airport, according to taz. The politicians say the sport is played by a select few, highlighting the unfair distribution of property in Berlin. But the Berlin administration kept the politicians from making par on their idea: Despite what was believed, only one of the three courses — the links in Pankow — is state-owned. Courses in Gattow and Wannsee are apparently in private hands. The idea isn’t so new: Boomer American comedian George Carlin made a similar proposal decades ago (link is NSFW because of language).
Weird, historically significant building sold
It’s probably the only deal that made sense: A Berlin car dealer bought the quirky Dreilinden rest area (photo above) along the A115 Autobahn that flanks the former border crossing in southwestern Berlin. Autohaus Gotthard König wants to re-open a restaurant in the curved building and create a meeting point for automotive fans (and, I assume, a sales lot), according to RBB24. The building opened in 1972 as a 24-hour restaurant at Checkpoint Bravo to serve people transiting between East Germany and West Berlin but struggled almost from the beginning. Some customs workers had offices there before it closed in 2002 — it was designed by Rainer Rümmler, the former head of the West Berlin building department who is best known for also designing most U-Bahn stations in former West Berlin including doozies like Richard-Wagner-Platz.
Man sentenced in high-profile femicide
An Afghan national Monday was sentenced to life in prison after murdering his wife in broad daylight in Pankow in 2022, according to RBB24. The man was upset that his wife had left him after their arrival in Germany in 2020 and officials did precious little to protect the woman — she had filed charges of abuse against him twice and he was known to be a danger to her.
The 2024 European soccer championships are coming to Germany and the events in Berlin (including the final) will cost the Hauptstadt at least €16 million more than originally planned, according to RBB24. Berlin will be splashing out €80 million to fund the unfortunately named public viewing at Brandenburg Gate as well as to make the Olympic stadium and former Olympic grounds more accessible and up-to-date (Wifi!).
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