The Berlin House of Representatives just elected Germany’s former Family Minister Franziska Giffey Governing Mayor. Only few believed she would win the elections, but she made it happen.
Berlin, December 21st, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — Since the war, West Berlin, East Berlin and unified Berlin have been governed by quite a few mayors. All of them were men, except Luise Schröder who was Acting First Mayor before the Federal Republic of Germany and the undemocratic German Democratic Republic were founded, from May 8th, 1947, to October 8th, 1948. But she was never elected Governing Mayor. That is why it is safe to say that Franziska Giffey is the first female Governing Mayor of Berlin.
From Losers to Winners
Many believe it is about time, 101 years after the Greater Berlin Act made the city grow substantially, 76 years after Nazi Germany was finally defeated and 32 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. But Franziska Giffey was not elected for the quota, but as winner of the elections on September 26th. She turned Berlin’s Social Democrats (SPD) from the losers they were in the polls to winners on election day. Her election campaign, her name, personality and image made it happen.
It looks like the plagiarism scandal which cost her the Family Ministry did not hurt her in the city state of Berlin. Mrs. Giffey is not a novice. Before duty called in the federal government, she was District Mayor in Berlin’s Neukölln borough for three years, a position that qualifies as a good test. She is only 43 years old and an easterner. The new Governing Mayor is married to a vet and has one son.
Since she stepped down as Minister on May 19th of this year, there have been several inaccurate predictions connected to Franziska Giffey. First, many believed the SPD in Berlin would drown with her, because of the plagiarism affair. They were wrong. Then, they said she would likely form a government with the involvement of the conservative CDU. Franziska Giffey may be a more conservative representative of the center-left SPD, but she went for a coalition with the left-wing Greens and the far-left ‘Die Linke’ anyway. This is the kind of coalition her predecessor Michael Müller ran as well.
Yesterday, she announced her Senators. Former Interior Senator Andreas Geisel is now Senator for City Development and Construction. It is a position he held before. Iris Spranger is Berlin’s first female Interior Senator, Astrid-Sabine Busse, a former headmaster, is Senator for Education, and Stephan Schwarz takes over the Senate Administration of Commerce. All of the new Senators mentioned so far are Social Democrats.
Most Pressing Issue
Daniel Wesener of the Greens is Senator of Finance, his party colleague Ulrike Gote is heading the Senate Health Department now, and Bettina Jarasch, who used to be the Greens’ candidate for Governing Mayor, is Environment Senator. One of Michael Müller’s Senators will continue running the department he was responsible for before, namely Klaus Lederer of ‘Die Linke’. He was and still is Senator of Culture. The former party chairlady Katja Kipping is Berlin’s new Senator of Integration and Labor. The independent law professor Lena Kreck is Justice Senator.
Berlin’s new Senate has to kick the accelerator immediately, meaning there is a lot of work. The most pressing issue remains Corona. Berlin, and Germany as a whole, are expecting exploding infection numbers because of the spreading Omicron variant of the virus. The affordable housing crisis is a big task too. So is Berlin’s climate policy.
In a full House of Representatives, she would have needed 74 votes for a majority. Because several members are sick, 70 was the magic number. Mrs. Giffey got 84 votes, which means that at least three members of the House who are part of the three coalition parties did not vote for her. But her majority is stable. Franziska Giffey was sworn in immediately. The Senators were going to follow in the early afternoon.
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