Cum-Ex scandal, energy crisis, traffic chaos - it could have been a substantive debate, a struggle for arguments, an argument for solutions. Instead, the parliamentarians of the Hamburg Parliament used the current hour on Wednesday mainly for mutual accusations and attacks, garnished with self-importance. Peter Tschentscher's red-green Senate has been in power for two and a half years now, so halfway through on the Elbe, time for an interim balance. But anyone who had hoped for a first recommendation for 2025 from the debate should have left the town hall at a loss.
The camps in the state parliament, which has 123 MPs, are quickly explained: On the one hand, the SPD and the Greens are lodged with 86 seats, which they carry in front of them with such self-confidence that observers almost get dizzy at the constant mention of the word two-thirds majority. On the other hand, the CDU, as the largest opposition party with just 15 MPs - as a result of the election result of 11.2 percent - behaves as if it were still or again a serious alternative. And right in the middle or on the edge, however, the left, AfD and the non-attached FDP MP Anna von Treuenfels-Frowein represent the clientele politics for which they were elected, seemingly detached.
This spectacle happened on Wednesday insofar as the Christian Democrats clearly criticized Red-Green. The credibility of Mayor Tschentscher and his SPD has been permanently damaged because of the Cum-Ex scandal alone. "This SPD scandal is hovering over their second term in office and that is causing massive damage to our city," said opposition leader Dennis Thering. In addition, the energy crisis is causing sharply rising prices, regular traffic jams lead to stress on Hamburg's streets and the coalition has also done nothing on housing policy.
"If this were a football game, you would certainly be several goals behind," said CDU faction leader Thering, who suggested that Tschentscher, who was "watching idly, reorganize his team. Specifically, he demanded a change in the interior, justice and environment departments, which are led by Andy Grote (SPD), Anna Gallina (Greens) and Jens Kerstan (Greens). The 38-year-old Thering - who would like to run as a top candidate in 2025 if his party lets him - did not think of much more.
The AfD, whose deputy Krzysztof Walczak gave the Senate an “unsatisfactory” for the previous work, argued similarly. In any case, one gets the impression that Germany, as the fourth-largest economy, is moving full steam ahead in the direction of a developing country.
The left-wing deputy Norbert Hackbusch dissected the previous performance of red-green more tangibly by referring to the sustainability indicators defined by Finance Senator Andreas Dressel (SPD). And after that, the Senate's balance sheet was "shameful" and characterized by "whitewashing". Because instead of less, there is more poverty in Hamburg, as the proportion of people at risk of poverty has increased from 17.8 percent in 2019 to 19.8 percent in 2021.
Hackbusch Tschentscher's senate also held up the mirror in the area of education: if in 2013 only 4.5 percent of young people left school without a qualification, by 2020 it would have been 6.8 percent. The left-wing MP also complained that red-green invested far too little in science, at 2.2 percent of gross domestic product. Hackbusch: "These are real facts and the real situation in our society."
And the Liberal Treuenfels-Frowein emphasized: "In two and a half years, Red-Green could have done a lot for Hamburg. Unfortunately, however, there is mostly stagnation instead of progress.” When it comes to climate protection, the Senate falls far short of its own goals. The so-called mobility turnaround is a flop, Harburg and many peripheral areas north of the Elbe are increasingly being left behind, the expansion of public transport is stuttering. Red-Green are also arguing about the right energy policy, the port is not making any progress, and Hamburg's industry is dissatisfied.
The handling of the Senate with the corona pandemic is particularly annoying for Treuenfels-Frowein. "For me and many citizens of this city, the low point of their balance sheet is how the mayor and his senate maltreated the people here with the most rigid corona policy of all federal states."
As expected, the chairmen of the SPD and Green parliamentary groups, Dirk Kienscherf and Dominik Lorenzen, rejected the allegations and spoke of a "successful mid-term review", an "effective Senate" that the city "rightly trusts". For example, both referred to aid packages worth billions during the corona pandemic, to new rapid transit projects and bicycle roads.
In contrast, the CDU caught a disastrous election result in the 2020 state election, has a miserable quota for women and has now also included the former AfD parliamentary group leader Jörn Kruse in the party. "They have enough of their own construction sites that they should maybe deal with," said Lorenzen, not without pointing out again that red-green has a - yes, right, two-thirds majority in the citizenship.
So this Wednesday in Hamburg was not a lesson in parliamentary debate. Because phrasemongering and meaningless taunts do not help the citizens of this city and this country in any way. In times of skyrocketing energy prices, rising inflation with consumer restraint and a possible flare-up of a pandemic, voters have a right to answers. And these should deliver people's representatives.