Left candidate Lederer -“What we love about Berlin is in danger of disappearing

The left-wing top candidate for the House of Representatives election, Klaus Lederer, fears that high rents will result in a loss of diversity in Berlin. In an interview he presents his ideas for a city based on solidarity.

Berlin should be affordable for all people and businesses – whether in terms of mobility, living or culture. The Left is therefore the only Berlin party to support the referendum on ” Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen und Co.” And she hasn’t given up on the rent cap either . Leading candidate Klaus Lederer tells t-online why both are important instruments for him to make Berlin more social – and to counteract the displacement of people, but also culture. 

t-online: Mr. Lederer, what is currently Berlin’s biggest problem?

Klaus Lederer: Clearly the rent issue and the social division. I am currently devoting myself massively to these topics.

What can be done about it?

Unfortunately, there is no switch that can be flipped to solve the problem from now on. It affects all areas and ranges from the fight against poverty to affordable mobility offers for everyone to access to education and cultural offers.

That is the central challenge of a city like Berlin if the quality of life and diversity are to be preserved. And I see this in danger, among other things, through massive displacement processes in the neighborhood structures.

Klaus Lederer: The left-wing top candidate has been a member of the Berlin House of Representatives since 2003.  (Source: V. Saizew)

Klaus Lederer: The left-wing top candidate has been a member of the Berlin House of Representatives since 2003. (Source: V. Saizew)

You are still clear for the rent cap. But it was tipped. How else would you tackle the housing problem?

The rent cap has not been tipped as such, but it has been determined that the state does not have the legislative competence to do so. Now we want to use a Federal Council initiative to try to bring the issue to the federal level – and preferably during this legislative period.

Another possible instrument that would have a major impact on the housing market is the expropriation of large real estate groups. All major parties are against expropriation. What advantages do you see in this?

I prefer to call it socialization rather than expropriation. The socialization of living space that is currently used for profit is a very important opportunity to have a long-term effect on the Berlin housing market and to make the provision of housing more social.

But the socialization caused enormous costs for the indebted Berlin through the compensation payments. How can this be done without the city going into further debt?

The amount of compensation will be well below the market value. This sum is also not paid 1: 1 from the state budget, but loans are taken out to finance such communalization.

This also means that these loans are paid off over a longer period of time. This is possible even with a socially bound rent level. We don’t throw money out the window, we get something in return with the apartments.

A demonstration "Against the rent madness" in May (archive picture): Lederer wants the expropriation of large real estate groups.  (Source: imago images / Future Image)

A demonstration “Against the rent madness” in May (archive picture): Lederer wants the expropriation of large real estate groups. (Source: Future Image / imago images)

In order to solve the rent problem, however, more is needed than a referendum and rent caps, which have not even been enforced. After all, this does not create a new apartment.

Of course, the new building is also part of it – 16 completely new city quarters are currently being built in Berlin. For the attractiveness of the locations, it is important to consider social offers, supply close to living space, cultural participation and greenery.

On the other hand, the mantra “build, build, build” is only correct provided that what is being built is affordable. So that people with average or lower Berlin incomes are also able to afford housing. 

The displacement of Berliners, but also cultural institutions due to rising rents, is problematic and seems to be endless. 

Housing investors, of course, expect a profit. This is accompanied by corresponding rent increases. When whole streets, whole neighborhoods are subjected to this, it is not surprising that massive displacement sets in. Not only from residents, but also from small businesses, crafts and smaller gastronomic offers.

Social and cultural institutions are also increasingly threatened: daycare centers, social advice centers, libraries. The city is becoming more uniform and has the same face everywhere. What we love about Berlin – the mixture in the neighborhoods and special features in them – is about to disappear. This is a serious problem.

It has recently become known that the cultural institution Zukunft am Ostkreuz has been terminated. The club on Rummelsburger Bucht will soon be celebrating its last party and will have to make way for a new building. What are you doing against this massive displacement?

If such places cannot be saved, we try to create opportunities for them to continue to exist elsewhere. We want to make greater use of the public real estate that still exists in order to give space to the cultural offerings and to create workspaces and presentation rooms for art and culture.

We also try to negotiate long-term conditions with some private landlords that allow cultural offers to settle safely.

Another building site in Berlin is traffic. You want free public transport, but also expand the S-Bahn lines at the same time. How realistic is that?

Certainly, having everything for free everywhere is very desirable. But as a city you will not be able to do that on your own. To this end, we as the left are fighting for a paradigm shift in the federal elections that understands an ecologically acceptable mobility infrastructure as a public good. That is a medium-term goal.

The television tower, in front of it an S-Bahn (archive picture): The Berlin Left wants to expand local transport.  (Source: imago images / Dirk Sattler)

The television tower, in front of it an S-Bahn (archive picture): The Berlin Left wants to expand local transport. (Source: Dirk Sattler / imago images)

Then what is the short term goal?

We want a ticket reform with fare reductions for Berliners. And we want to massively expand local transport: new routes in the comparatively cheap and quick-to-implement tram sector, the modernization and repair of the available underground and S-Bahn networks as well as increased frequency, especially in the outskirts.

Only if local transport can fulfill the mobility guarantee for everyone will we have less motorized individual transport in the future.

Does a ban on combustion engines also play a role?

The ban on combustion engines will come nationwide at some point – not just in Berlin. It is a necessary measure, but does not solve the mobility requirements of Berliners. But we don’t have to fool ourselves that we can just replace all the combustion engines with electric motors and then just carry on.

That, too, would not be ecologically justifiable, because it would not result in so many CO2 emissions, but the consumption of rare earths, space and sealing in the city would increase. That is why the expansion of local public transport is so important.

Thank you for the interview!

On September 26, the Berliners elect not only the German Bundestag, but also the Berlin House of Representatives and the district assemblies. For an overview of the positions and goals of the Berlin parties, t-online conducted interviews with the respective top candidates for the House of Representatives election. You can find another conversation every Sunday on t-online. The interview with SPD top candidate Franziska Giffey will follow on Sunday, September 12th .

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