Franziska Giffey (SPD) had deliberately waited for 2023 to present her election campaign. First work through the problems of the old year and then use the momentum of the new year to start the short but intense election campaign leading up to the repeat election on February 12th.
That was the calculation. "After all, I also have to rule a city on the side." But the calculation didn't work out, because Berlin once again showed its chaotic and violent side on New Year's Eve - and the Governing Mayor once again had to deal with damage limitation.
The attacks on New Year's Eve by mostly young perpetrators, who shot fireworks at passers-by and emergency services in the capital, were too extreme. 33 emergency services were injured. Giffey made it clear how strongly she condemned the abuse. You have “absolutely zero understanding” for this form of attack. "This is blind destructiveness directed against our forces who want to help others." In the next Senate session, the incidents will be worked up together with Police President Barbara Slowik.
After the riots on New Year's Eve, "the protection of the emergency services is needed, but also consistent criminal prosecution," says Berlin's Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey. She is now calling for nationwide consultations about a ban on firecrackers. An isolated solution would bring nothing.
But Giffey also looked beyond Berlin and called for a nationwide discussion. “It is absolutely clear that we have to draw conclusions from this night. There needs to be a nationwide debate on the whole issue.” Under the chairmanship of Berlin's Senator for the Interior, Iris Spranger (SPD), the conference of interior ministers will probably soon also deal with the question of a ban on firecrackers for private individuals. And Giffey might be trying to make a name for herself as a hands-on crisis manager.
This is also the approach with which the SPD is going into the repeat election campaign. The Social Democrats have fully focused the campaign on the top candidate and incumbent. Large-scale posters show a governing mayoress who is still poring over files in the glow of a desk lamp late in the evening, keyword: "Working for Berlin."
It is about nothing less than defending the Red City Hall, and everything will be done to ensure that this is successful, she says. "In heavy seas you don't change the helmsman or the helmswoman."
The SPD now feels encouraged by the polls, as co-party leader Raed Saleh said at the presentation of the campaign. After the SPD had been in third place behind the Greens and CDU for a long time, the most recent poll by Insa saw them level with the Union, just ahead of the Öko party.
The SPD had already worked its way up from third to first place in the 2021 parliamentary elections. Your hope is high that this will be successful again in the repeat election with the office bonus. “In the end, the Berliners have to make an assessment. And I have no doubts that it will happen again this time," Saleh said. You go into the election “with respect and humility, but also with the very clear will to win”.
Unlike competitor Bettina Jarasch, who wants to continue the existing red-green-red alliance under Green leadership, Giffey shows no preference for a preferred coalition. Giffey also left unanswered the question of whether she would also be available as a senator under a different leadership in the event of an election defeat. “I focus all my energy on us winning. The focus is square one in the Rotes Rathaus. Everything else just drains energy.”
The Social Democrats want to distinguish themselves with the topic of social cohesion. "The SPD has always stood for bringing people together, for saying that the stronger must support the weaker," said Giffey. The election program from last year is still valid, but the main proposal for crisis management decided by the party congress is added. The crisis triggered by the Russian war of aggression can only be overcome through a joint effort.
The election campaign motto: "Together Berlin". The city now needs professionalism, stability, continuity, reliability and pragmatism. As a special campaign hit, Giffey praises the 29-euro ticket for local transport, which the SPD has been pushing ahead with, and which the SPD wants to keep for the Berlin city area even after the introduction of the Deutschlandticket in May. It is one of the motifs that should be the main focus. The parties had put up the first election posters on Monday night. In total, the Social Democrats want to put 16,000 large billboards and 47,000 small billboards on lampposts.
Parallel to the election campaign, an appeal is currently pending with the Federal Constitutional Court against the decision of the Berlin State Constitutional Court to have the elections repeated in their entirety due to "severe systemic deficiencies". The 43 plaintiffs also include members of the state parliament. Karlsruhe has asked the plaintiffs to submit statements by January 10th. Only then will the court decide whether to accept the constitutional complaint. However, the state returning authority has announced that it is not justifiable to interrupt preparations for the election and wait for a decision by the Federal Constitutional Court.
The campaigners don't want to be deterred from their schedule either. "We now have a process and an election date that we are preparing for," Giffey said. "We can't constantly readjust to everything possible."
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