Kevin Kühnert is one of the greatest political talents in the republic. Now he is running for the Bundestag. But what exactly does he want to achieve there? Here he explains his plans.
Kevin Kühnert : I hide somewhere different every day, with you today. Soon again with Markus Lanz , with rbb and so on.
Only the Union obviously does not find you. Does that mean we won’t get Saskia Esken and Kevin Kühnert either if we elect Olaf Scholz on September 26th, as the Union claims?
First of all, it’s nice that you are considering voting for the SPD .
That was now purely hypothetical.
Naturally. But seriously: You get the SPD in all its breadth and with its common program. In particular, you get Olaf Scholz as Federal Chancellor. And as is well known, he also has the authority to issue guidelines.
So he’s the boss. But what is probably behind the Union’s allegations is the question: How influential is Kevin Kühnert after the election?
I am deputy party chairman, even on the day after the election. I am interested in the program of my party and the traces I have left behind can be found in our election manifesto. I am very satisfied with that.
Are you evading now?
No. We have had tough arguments in the past, everyone knows that. They weren’t motivated personally, but rather in terms of content: at Hartz IV , in tax policy and so on. The SPD has finally faced these conflicts and defused them. And as a program party in the only possible way: by working on common concepts.
New unity: Kevin Kühnert with Olaf Scholz at an election event in Kühnert’s constituency. (Source: Political-Moments / imago images)
In other words: You don’t have to overthrow Olaf Scholz because he is representing your program anyway?
He represents a program behind which the entire SPD is united. First and foremost Olaf Scholz himself. Nobody had to force anything on him, on the contrary: This program is the glue that makes the SPD so strong at the moment. And that’s exactly why there will be no power struggle in the SPD after the election. Everyone is in the right place and fulfills their tasks.
That may be true for the SPD, but not for possible coalition partners like the Left, as the Afghanistan debate has shown again. Why does the SPD not simply rule out a left-wing alliance in order to avoid the Union’s red sock campaign?
All-round exclusion has been the life insurance of the CDU and CSU for years , because hardly any governments can be formed against them. That’s over now. I also believe that the left should urgently clarify its original conflict as to whether it really wants to govern.
But the left has now repeatedly emphasized that it does not commit to NATO and does not want to change its foreign policy positions.
That’s what one part of the party says. The other pushes around. I would like to understand whether the left’s program contains a serious assessment. Left parties in particular sometimes tend to have folklore in their election manifestos.
Where is the folklore in the SPD program?
We are the famous exception proving the rule, you must know.
And where do you get the hope that the left will become pragmatic after all?
We can see that some leftists themselves suffer from this narrow-mindedness in foreign policy and that they occasionally vote against the faction line. And in fact, beyond the NATO obsession of the left, there is always reason to develop new peace-political strategies. But the left have to sort that out for themselves, that’s not my job.
But that still sounds like you think a red-green-red government after the election is realistic.
Let’s not turn it into a guessing game. It is absolutely possible that it will be enough for red-green. That’s what I’m fighting for. But why should we generally exclude a coalition that already exists in three federal states?
Currently in Thuringia, Berlin and Bremen.
Exactly. And communism did not break out there, nor were the supermarket shelves swept empty. It is absurd to pretend that it is already a violation of the UN Convention on Human Rights if you want to form a government without a Union and FDP . Above all, we do not need any instructions from a union for which Hans-Georg Maaßen is running as a direct candidate. In the past few years, Maassen posed a greater security risk to social cohesion than Dietmar Bartsch could ever be.
You are applying for a direct mandate for the Bundestag in the Berlin constituency of Tempelhof-Schöneberg. Her CDU competitor won there last time. Why do you think you will win this time?
Because it is not a CDU district at all.
Then why did he win three times?
There is a large majority here for social, sustainable and cosmopolitan politics – as in many cities. But the respective parties have stolen each other’s votes. The CDU candidate is then the laughing third. That is why I also seek support for myself from sympathizers of the Greens, the Left and others. Because the CDU policy simply fundamentally contradicts the interests of the local people.
For example where?
In my constituency, more than 80 percent of the people live on rent. My opponent from the CDU is the one who has repeatedly campaigned against tenant protection rights. Most recently, when the SPD wanted tenants to be financially relieved of the CO2 price for heating with oil and gas. He prevented that with the CDU parliamentary group. At the same time, the property lobby is making a generous donation to the CDU.
Should there be a nationwide rent cap ?
A temporary rent freeze is needed in regions where the housing market is tight.
What does that mean in concrete terms?
The rents there are then only allowed to rise at the rate of inflation for five years, in order to prevent displacement. And then we have to use these five years to remedy the real reason for the high rents : the housing shortage.
So: build, build, build. Who should build?
Anyone who can build affordable: municipal housing associations and cooperatives, for example. But of course also private individuals who offer a certain proportion of apartments at long-term low prices. And they all need a better political framework. Not only in terms of housing subsidies, but above all in terms of affordable building land. Building land prices are one of the biggest price drivers because they opened the door to speculation. We want to change that.