Members' vote: What the "clear result" of the SPD on the Berlin GroKo actually shows

It's not that clear after all.

Members' vote: What the "clear result" of the SPD on the Berlin GroKo actually shows

It's not that clear after all. "The result shows", Franziska Giffey specified on Monday morning, "that the members made the decision anything but easy." What is meant is: The 54.3 percent of Berlin SPD members who voted for a coalition led by the CDU in the capital. The night before, Giffey was relieved about the "clear result".

At least the relief should remain. A majority rejection of the coalition agreement would have been a motion of no confidence in the co-state chairs Giffey and Raed Saleh, who had campaigned vehemently for the grand coalition for weeks before the SPD member vote. You have prevailed. Nevertheless: The narrow result is not an absolute success.

Rather, it shows a torn SPD that, despite notable concessions by the Christian Democrats, is just clearing the way for the grand coalition. Although the CDU is bursting with strength after the election (28.2 percent), it leaves five out of ten Senate administrations to the punished Social Democrats (18.4 percent), especially in key departments such as the interior, building and housing. The coalition agreement also has a social democratic sound. Affordable housing, climate protection, lived diversity and a training offensive are among the focal points of the agreement, which promises "the best for Berlin". It is undoubtedly a negotiating success for the SPD, which only 54 percent of the grassroots voted "yes" to approve.

Last but not least, the SPD remains in government responsibility, although Giffey and her party will give up the Red City Hall, which has been in the hands of the Social Democrats since 2001. The previous coalition with the Greens and the Left Party would have had a larger majority than the Black and Reds now, but in Giffey's eyes obviously less political perspective. The election for GroKo is therefore also a bet on the future: Giffey is betting that her party will gain a significant profile alongside the CDU, which in turn will make it affordable in the next election – and at best lead to a return to the town hall.

The goal is ambitious. Black-Red has big plans, although this coalition is not designed for the long term: Since February was a repeat election, the next ballot is scheduled for 2026. However, as Giffey put it, the greatest challenge is likely to be "to take those with us who are skeptical and negative". There are quite a few, as the member vote shows.

The Berlin Jusos in particular, but also several district associations, had clearly spoken out against the alliance and are now grudgingly supporting the GroKo plans. The Jusos are also demanding personal consequences. Giffey, who is expected to take up a Senate post in the state government, has been indirectly asked to step down from the party leadership. "A look at the federal party shows that the SPD benefits when top party offices and government posts are separated. We would also like that for the SPD Berlin," said Juso chairwoman Sinem Taşan-Funke to the "Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland". The resentment is obviously great, the tone for the next state party conference on May 26 is set.

Giffey and Raed Saleh, co-chairs at the top of the party and SPD parliamentary group chair, were only confirmed in their posts last year, but lost a lot of support. Despite the close vote, Saleh does not want to know anything about personnel changes ("The party is happy when the content is right"), nor does he want to become a member of the Senate - probably also knowing that there is great skepticism in his own ranks. Instead, he wanted to be a corrective for the work of the black-red coalition and to "control and, if necessary, correct their work, especially that of the CDU, as state and parliamentary group chairmen," as he said to the German Press Agency on Monday.

Not only Saleh is likely to follow the planned GroKo closely. There are great reservations about the Berlin CDU, which has conducted a conservative and polarizing election campaign. Above all, a query about the first names of the suspects after the Berlin New Year's Eve riots had a lasting effect on many, as they were apparently supposed to provide conclusions about the ethnic background of the alleged criminals.

A few days before the members' vote, Kevin Kühnert, Secretary General of the Federal SPD and Member of the Bundestag for the Tempelhof-Schöneberg constituency, expressed his concerns about the GroKo and Wegner's staff, "which I, as a Berliner, think more than takes some getting used to". He was quoted by "Spiegel" as saying: "This man embodies little of my hometown, where I've been living for almost 34 years. It hurts me." The SPD did have enough of its own share in the fact that the CDU became so strong in the Berlin elections. "But the election campaign was characterized by the fact that the CDU created a mood at the expense of entire sections of the population."

In this respect, Kai Wegner, who is expected to be elected the new Governing Mayor, is going into the GroKo with (not just) a mortgage. With no previous government experience, he will have to prove himself in everyday government – ​​and not only have to convince the citizens but also the Social Democrats. With regard to the coalition agreement, which certainly bears a social democratic signature, this could lead to disappointment among their own core clientele.

Formally, nothing stands in the way of black and red in Berlin. On Monday afternoon (4 p.m.), the CDU will vote on the coalition agreement at a party conference. Approval is considered likely. Afterwards, the future coalition partners want to announce who they want to send to the Senate. The coalition agreement is to be signed on Wednesday, and Wegner is to be elected the first governing mayor of his party since 2001 in the House of Representatives on Thursday.

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