Berlin Germany – Red Red Green

This entry was started mid-December 2016. After Berliners voted in September, the ruling Grand Coalition of SPD (Socialist Democratic Party) and CDU (Christian Democratic Union) was replaced by the victorious SPD, Greens and Die Linke (the Leftists mostly representing the former East).

I have often referred to Berlin as a microcosm of the united Germanys and now with this election result, there is growing discussion that it is a preview of what may result in September 2017 at the national elections—Merkel loses. The other interesting outcome could be a Jamaican coalition of the CDU (black color), the Greens, and the FDP (Free Democratic Party, the Liberals, yellow). Until now, it is simply unimaginable that the Greens would ever team up with the more conservative parties. But, since the Green Party is heading the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg where leading industrial companies like Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), Porsche, Bosch, etc. sit, this combination can no longer be ruled out. And there is another potential influence with the new AfD (Alternative for Deutschland, anti-Euro and anti-immigration, conservative, populists) gaining popularity.

German article in the FAZ on Dec. 11, 2016 (German)

Ein bisschen Venezuela in Berlin (A Little Venezuela in Berlin) Rot-Rot-Grün übernimmt die Hauptstadt Berlin. Und vertreibt reiche Investoren. Kein Wunder: Wohnungspolitik macht jetzt ein Freund von Hugo Chávez. Und ist das Ganze ein Modellprojekt für den Bund? (Red-Red-Green takes over the Capitol City, Berlin. And makes rich investors hesitate. No wonder: Residential policies will be made by a friend of Hugo Chávez. And will this all be a model project for the nation?) 11.12.2016, by Ralph Bollmann

In any case, there is a major controversy surrounding one of the State Secretaries for Residential Building and Construction, Andrej Holm who was formerly as an 18 year old a member of the secret police in the DDR (East Germany) and quit after the Wall fell. See article from January 2, 2017 (German). He is recognized as a radical leftist, a friend of the late Hugo Chavez and he is very concerned about the city of Berlin’s gentrification.

The FAZ article above highlights that this could be a taste of what’s to come on the national scale. Berlin has struggled economically ever since the war, being sometimes called an island in the sea of communism by its western counterparts before the Wall fell. It depended and still does to a large extent on subsidies, has a higher than the German average unemployment rate and relatively cheap housing in Germany and esp. on global standards. The good stuff like faster GDP growth, greater influx of people esp. youth, a viable Start-Up scene has made Berlin a desirable city to live and work. So will gentrification work for Berlin as a magnet for growth and prosperity or against it causing the cost of living to rise which might deter the creative energy flooding in?

Under Berlin’s former mayor, Klaus Wowereit, Berlin was declared “Poor, but Sexy.” Now, there is speculation that Berlin will just become poor. Berlin was always a city on the edge, but then the Wall fell and there was a phase when re-building the new center in the unification process, it started to be more like other western German cities, “bürgerlich” (kind of middle-class suburban) and in the last 10 years it has gotten its edge back. Still there is an underlying sentiment by Berlin residents to avoid speaking loudly about what a great city it is out of fear of an invasion ruining the quality of life.

The other city on the edge is San Francisco which has become thoroughly gentrified, but not necessarily less edgy or is it less edgy?

Take a look at a related Post, Invest-a-Vision gets Started   and Please leave a comment

PS: Andrej Holm never got the job due the controversy surrounding his misrepresentation of his past, instead Sebastian Scheel from ‘Die Linke’ party has the position responsible for residential policies in Berlin (this includes together with other related subjects, permits to build affordable housing and rent controls).