Senate: CDU head of state almost there: Berlin before a change of government

Berlin is on the verge of a change of government - and a deep turning point.

Senate: CDU head of state almost there: Berlin before a change of government

Berlin is on the verge of a change of government - and a deep turning point. After the SPD, the Berlin CDU also opted for a black-red coalition. For the first time since 2001, a Christian Democrat is to become head of government: CDU state chief Kai Wegner.

There was the necessary majority for this in the SPD in a member vote - albeit narrower than expected with 54.3 percent yes votes. At a CDU state party conference on Monday evening, the delegates voted unanimously for the coalition agreement negotiated with the SPD. The CDU is getting ready to govern.

The government team has now also been determined: Wegner presented the CDU senators, consisting of two men and three women, at the party conference. Finance senator is to be Stefan Evers, the long-serving member of parliament and general secretary of the Berlin CDU, and education senator Katharina Günther-Wünsch, the previous education policy spokeswoman for the CDU parliamentary group. For a long time the question was open as to how the CDU would fill the judiciary department. The Vice President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Felor Badenberg, who was previously unknown in Berlin state politics and is not a member of the CDU, is intended for this.

For the Senate Department for Transport and Climate Protection, on the other hand, the deputy state chairwoman Manja Schreiner is to be responsible, like Badenberg a doctorate in law. For the culture department, Wegner was able to win over the music manager Joe Chialo, who is a member of the CDU but is still a blank slate in Berlin's state politics.

SPD now small partner

The Berlin SPD also officially announced their future Senate members on Monday evening. As a small partner of the CDU, it will provide five Senate members in the future Senate: four female and one male senator. The CDU has six posts, including the designated governing mayor Kai Wegner.

The previous Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey will become Economics Senator. Iris Spranger, who has held the office since 2021, remains the interior senator. The longstanding State Secretary in various Senate administrations, Christian Gaebler, becomes Senator for Urban Development, Building and Housing.

Cansel Kiziltepe, who has been Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Building Ministry and a member of the Bundestag in Berlin, will become Senator for Labor and Social Affairs. Ina Czyborra, historian and archaeologist, who is Vice-President of the SPD and member of parliament, will be Senator for Health and Science.

Giffey's co-state and SPD parliamentary group leader Raed Saleh decided against a Senate post and justified this to the German Press Agency: "For the same reason that I led the important City of Diversity working group in the coalition negotiations, I will become the new do not belong to the state government, but control their work, especially that of the CDU, as state and parliamentary group chairman and correct it if necessary." This was probably intended as an appeal to their own ranks in the sense of: Don't worry, we'll keep an eye on the CDU.

Because the SPD state leadership is under pressure. In the repeat elections to the House of Representatives on February 12, the Social Democrats performed historically poorly with 18.4 percent of the vote. The winner of the election was the CDU with 28.2 percent. Giffey and Saleh had decided against the mathematically possible continuation of the coalition with the Greens and Left and in favor of an alliance with the CDU.

Although the SPD membership decision confirmed black and red, the party is considered divided. Some comrades fear that the state government will be too conservative in its domestic and integration policies, among other things. Berlin's Juso Chairwoman Sinem Taşan-Funke told the German Press Agency that the result of the member vote announced on Sunday was extremely close. But it is clear that it is to be accepted. "We Jusos will continue to support the SPD's government actions in a critical and solidarity manner," she announced.

marriage of convenience instead of love marriage

Wegner sees the coalition with the SPD as a marriage of convenience. It's not a love marriage, he said, echoing a formulation by SPD state chairman Saleh. "True. But it doesn't have to be that." In any case, it is not a forced marriage like red-green-red. It is about common sense in housing construction as well as in transport policy.

For him, doing better than red-green-red is his claim: "I'll work hard every day to make Berlin work better," said Wegner. "And I want to make sure that our children can continue to say in the future: 'Berlin - what a great city.' Let's get to work."

There is still one hurdle to overcome: On Thursday, Wegner is to be elected governing mayor in the plenary hall of the state parliament. Whether all MPs from the CDU and SPD will vote for him is not considered certain.