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Berlin: Governing Mayor Michael Müller to Make Room for Franziska Giffey

Update 5:45 p.m.

Governing Mayor Michael Müller will not run for the chair of his party, the Berlin Social Democrats (SPD) anymore. Germany’s Family Minister Franziska Giffey is supposed to take over.

Michael Müller’s SPD is in trouble. The issue is not limited to Berlin, but affects the entire country. Even in their strongholds, the Social Democrats are drowning. In Hamburg, First Mayor Peter Tschentscher will soon find out just how difficult things are. On February 23rd, 2020, election day, the junior partner in his coalition, The Greens, might overtake him. This would mean they would have the First Mayor post.

Berlin’s SPD Trailing Behind

In Berlin, the election is scheduled to take place one and a half years later, in the fall of 2021, but the situation is comparable to the one in Hamburg. According to the latest polls quoted in German-language media, Müller’s Berlin SPD is trailing behind its junior partners in the three-way center-left coalition he is heading.

While the Greens are exploding with around 23 percent support in Berlin, ‘The Left’ has around 19 and the SPD only 15 percent. This means if things continue the way they are, not the SPD will provide the Governing Mayor in 2021, but The Greens or someone else will. Even though the conservative CDU is extremely weak in Berlin, it is now stronger than the SPD.

The other day, Müller and his Berlin SPD colleagues discussed things at a retreat in Nuremberg, when Minister Franziska Giffey suddenly appeared. According to German media reports, Müller did not know she was going to come along. The RBB now says Governing Mayor Müller, who is also heading the Berlin SPD, would remain Mayor, for now, but give up the party leadership in May. If elected, Giffey might share the helm of Berlin’s SPD with Raed Saleh, their floor leader at the Berlin House of Representatives. And it looks like she will be the SPD’s candidate for the top post at Red City Hall. Müller might enter the Bundestag as an MP.

End of the Era Müller in Berlin

Michael Müller has recently hit several issues:

  • He was not reelected into the board of the SPD on the federal level.
  • According to polls, he is the least popular First Minister in Germany, even though his supporters in the SPD are still fans.
  • He has had issues with his coalition partners. Senators did not appear at the House of Representatives when they had to, Green fundamentalists rejected important business projects, ‘The Left’ wanted expropriations of real estate companies.
  • The ‘Rent Cap’ he agreed on with his partners is shaky. It might be turned into dog food by courts in the next months.
  • Some media in Berlin keep on nagging him by slamming anything he says or does.

On top of it all, he must have been overworked. He performed well during the fall of the Berlin Wall 30th anniversary festivities, but hardly anyone gave him credit. He jumped in for the Federal President, attended countless other official festivities while doing the rest of his job. In spite of it all, he sells his plans and projects with determination.

Now the era of Governing Mayor Michael Müller at Red City Hall slowly seems to be coming to its end. But for now, he will still be there, ruling a city state called Berlin.

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