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Konrad Werner: R2G – first we take Berlin

The newly rubber-stamped red-red-green coalition won't make the sick, empty feeling go away. But what else have we got.

Image for Konrad Werner: R2G – first we take Berlin
Mayor Michael Müller. Photo by Sebaso (CC BY-SA 4.0)

There are other things going on at the moment. Like the fact that the planet’s biggest military power has just elected a vicious sexual abuser who in between doing lines of Viagra is keen to hear more advice from a white nationalist wife-beating ex-Wall Street banker ideologue who wants to start a global war against Islam. And all we can do is sit here, powerless, and pray that the United States’ commitment to its democratic institutions is more than just a thing people say and there is still a vaguely decent society here four years from now. And then there’s also the fact that people have started accepting the idea of rounding up “illegal immigrants” and deporting them and keeping a Muslim register and apparently now it’s fine to paint swastikas on things again because globalization is bad and the media was “corporate” and “political correctness” was upsetting them and too many women were making computer games. But, look, we’re gonna have more bike lanes!

Yep, oblivious to this gathering darkness, Berlin is about to have its most social-infrastructure-boosting, environmentally-progressive government ever. For the first time in the city’s history, the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Linke have agreed a coalition contract, which could make this city a safer, nicer place to live and, if things work out, serve as a model for Germany’s next government.

Six weeks of negotiations came to an end on Wednesday evening, and Mayor Michael Müller (of the SPD) came out with a grin on his face, all spent but happy. It’s not final, because all three parties still have to vote on it in early December, but here’s what we know: They want to build 400,000 new flats over the next few years, create 6,000 new jobs in the rubbish city administration, renovate schools, make integrating (rather than deporting) refugees a priority, have more tram routes and bike lanes, and pedestrianize Unter den Linden. Whether any of this works is another thing. (Some of the German press is already moaning about their precious debt ceiling like it’s more important than having decent schools). Let’s just hope they do enough. Cynicism about non-fascist governments is not a luxury we have now.