#253: BVG strike over, a fence around Görli, dual citizenship
The Bundeswehr wants you to drive
Hey 20 Percent!
I’m traveling tomorrow so could somebody volunteer to take my spot at Saturday’s protest against right-wing politics in Germany? Apparently 100,000 people have signed up to form a human chain around the Reichstag in a demonstration planned even before a bunch of right-wing (AfD and CDU) politicians met with Neo-Nazis and right-wing idealists to plan the deportation of immigrants, as well as Germans they don’t like.
The protests seem to be working — AfD politicians have mostly responded with bizarre theories that we were all paid to attend the protests while myself, as an immigrant, was relieved to some extent since the protests were even in far-right strongholds in Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia.
But we still have a long way to to.
Have a good weekend!
The Berlin News Quiz, hosted by me, is back on Wednesday at 8pm at Comedy Cafe Berlin. Get tickets here (we sold out last time). Four hilarious panelists face off to show their knowledge (or ignorance) of German news and Berlin!
It’ll soon be easier to be German or German and something else
The Bundesrat, Germany’s upper house of parliament, Friday passed a law that will allow people to apply for German citizenship after just five years in-country, down from eight, or just three if they put a lot of effort into acting like a German (learn the language, volunteer or maybe just sporting white socks with Birkenstocks), according to web.de. What’s more: the law will allow dual citizenship so we won’t have to give up one to have the other. The Bundestag — the lower house — passed it two weeks ago and now German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) will make sure it’s constitutional before making it a law in the next couple of months (May, probably).
Strike (mostly) over
If you’re a reader from Potsdam — we feel you. While the BVG strike ended at 10am Friday, the public transport strike by union Verdi runs from 2am Friday to 4am Saturday in Brandenburg, that leafy state that fully surrounds Berlin and which is led by Potsdam. Verdi said it’s coming down harder on Brandenburg because public transport companies there are trying to negotiate worse working conditions. In Berlin, the union wants all workers to have 33 vacation days and shorter unpaid breaks. It was the third strike in just a week (train engineers, air traffic controllers, BVG) — that has to be some kind of record. We’re safe for now: The GDL train engineer union has promised not to strike again until March 3, earliest.
To fence (Görli) or not to fence (Görli)
One thing is certain: If a fence is ever built around Görlitzer Park, it won’t happen soon because our politicians aren’t done talking about it yet. Clara Herrmann (Die Grüne), mayor of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, wrote the Berlin senate to say her district won’t accept responsibility for building a fence around the park and won’t pass any laws to instill opening hours on the green space, according to taz. The fence and opening hours are the brainchild of Berlin mayor Kai Wegner (CDU) amid rampant drug dealing and a group rape in the park last summer — three men are currently on trial for the crime. The Berlin government could take over the project, though that would likely lead to lawsuits alleging the city has no jurisdiction since the park has no city-wide significance. So for now, despite all the words spoken since last summer, nothing is changing in Görli.
Berlin hates your marriage
Some news items fly just below the radar but are nonetheless interesting: Berlin bureaucrats are beginning to push Schreibtischehen, or “desk weddings”, where people are betrothed on paper but not during a ceremony to save time, according to Tagesspiegel (Paywall). The problem? Registry offices are so overwhelmed that at least one — Hellersdorf-Marzahn — stopped doing wedding ceremonies altogether last summer and others are refusing to help people tie the knot on Saturdays (Reinickendorf, Steglitz-Zehlendorf). Families are also sometimes having to wait months for death certificates as bureaucrats play catch up.
At least one bureaucracy will soon be getting outside help: The German army — the Bundeswehr — as well as federal police will provide drivers license examiners to help reduce a backlog of 20,000 practical driving tests that piled up during corona in Berlin, according to RBB24.
2024 … the year I get my German up to scratch?
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