As the top candidate and state chairman, Kai Wegner wants to conquer the Red City Hall in Berlin with the CDU. He spoke to to us online about expensive expropriations, smelly school toilets and extremism among the police.
Kai Wegner promises on his website that he “wants to listen and do something” . The state chairman and top candidate of the CDU in Berlin is applying for the office of governing mayor in the election to the House of Representatives on September 26th. In an interview with t-online, Wegner explains how he wants to defuse the housing and teacher shortages in the next five years and what similarities he has with the left-wing top candidate Klaus Lederer.
In April the rent cap failed because the country has not yet had the legislative competence to do so. Now the House of Representatives has asked the Senate to start a Federal Council initiative through which the federal states and municipalities should be able to regulate rent increases more closely. The MPs of your party voted against it, saying it was the wrong way to go. What would be the right way for Berlin?
Kai Wegner: The rent cap in Karlsruhe not only failed legally, but also on the merits. He has not improved anything for tenants, on the contrary. It has never been so difficult to find an apartment in Berlin as it is today. The number of new buildings has collapsed. The Senate has repeatedly missed the goals it had set for the new building over the past five years.
Like Hamburg, I want to focus on cooperation instead of confrontation and create an alliance for affordable building and living. The private housing industry, municipal companies, cooperatives, but also tenants ‘associations such as the Berlin tenants’ association, the construction industry and administration should come together at one table in order to jointly develop solutions for this crisis.
Another approach to quickly lowering rents would be to expropriate large housing groups. The Berliners will vote on this on September 26th. Your party is strictly against it. Why and what do you fear when a majority agrees?
I strongly advocate that Berliners disagree with this. It’s not just about expropriating Deutsche Wohnen or Vonovia . The expropriation would also affect large cooperatives, which are really not rent drivers. Church housing associations, for example, could also be expropriated, even though they create many social offers in Berlin. That makes the whole absurdity of this initiative clear.
When I hear from the red-red-green Senate that the compensation for the expropriations would cost up to 39 billion euros, that’s as much as Berlin spends in one year. This means that there is not a single cent left for the construction of new apartments, for new teachers, for the expansion of local public transport, for new daycare centers, schools or better administration. Expropriations do not create a single additional apartment, they just cost an insane amount of money.
The new residential construction you are planning will take years. Many tenants now need solutions. How quickly can your rent payment proposal be implemented?
Of course, new buildings are not built overnight, but we can and must get much faster here. I want us to structure the planning and approval processes in such a way that in five years – that is, at the end of the legislative period – we will have significant relief on the rental housing market. In contrast to other large cities in Germany, Berlin has the advantage that we have an enormous amount of space that can still be built on. The rent brake must also be consistently enforced and monitored in Berlin in order to identify and sanction black sheep in the real estate industry.
We want to help the average earner with the rent money. This would then have to be applied for via the housing authorities and processed quickly. In this way we will supplement the federal housing allowance and support the middle of society.
Another topic that traditionally causes problems in Berlin is the field of education. Here, too, you have presented numerous large and small projects for the major new start. What would you do first?
The red-red-green Senate is currently pushing a lot on Corona. Regardless of the pandemic, we have to re-civilize teachers in Berlin as soon as possible. Compared to all other federal states, Berlin spends the most money on education per capita. Nevertheless, Berlin is always at the bottom of the list when it comes to country comparisons. This is not because Berlin students are more stupid, but because a lot is going wrong in our education policy. We need a new quality in education. For this we also need the best teachers. If all federal states except Berlin are civil servants and two thirds of our teachers are lateral entrants, then action must be taken.
Schools have to become places of wellbeing. We talk a lot about all-day care, which I think is right. But in many schools we have unacceptable conditions: smelly toilets, bare, leaky and moldy ceilings or cables poking out of the walls. Therefore, more investments in the structural maintenance of the schools are necessary.