“This implodes another CDU / CSU election bubble”

In Berlin, the housing market collapsed with the rent cap.

We shouldn’t confuse cause and effect. On the Berlin housing market, the demand is far greater than the supply, and not just since the rent cap. Especially in the high-priced rental segment, less was offered afterwards, that’s true. Also because the Union has been preventing necessary accompanying measures in the federal government for years.

Which one?

For example, the SPD recognized early on that large-scale leases are taking place through the conversion of rental apartments into condominiums. Not least in Berlin. It was not until the spring that we were finally able to persuade the Union to implement a reform that restricts this practice. Acting earlier would have saved many households a lot of trouble, but governing with the Union is like driving with the handbrake on.
You have made around 40,000 house calls during the election campaign in the past few weeks. Aside from the rents, what else is on the minds of the people you have met?

The mobility.

So the Berliner who complains about the subway being three minutes late?

On the contrary. My constituency is a gum constituency. It starts in the north at KaDeWe, so it’s very urban. But in the south it goes down to Lichtenrade, where, by Berlin standards, the fox and the rabbit say good night and Brandenburg begins. In the north I encounter questions about alternatives to the car, secondary cycle routes and trams. It looks different down on the outskirts, where I grew up. I almost inevitably had to get a driver’s license because a lot of things in everyday life were hardly possible without a car.

How do you change that?

The expansion of public transport and share offers is currently failing from our city outskirts due to economic viability. But we must no longer make the mistake of speaking of a lack of demand there. The demand is there, we just don’t see it. No farmer stands by the dirt road and says: I stand here until someone gives me a rental bike or an e-quad. The acidic there yes. The offer has to be there first so that people can even adjust. As part of the offer from adequately financed municipal transport associations.

But that costs a lot of money.

Rural exodus and the death of villages are already costing us a lot, both economically and culturally. Apps and autonomous vehicles will help to make mobility more efficient and cheaper in the future. And of course mobility in rural areas will not look like it does in Berlin, only that there is still a cow on the roadside. The need is completely different. But of course it costs money. For me, however, this is an important part of services of general interest, just like water, electricity and transport routes. And without an exertion, people will never switch to the public one because they cannot do so due to a lack of offers.

Kevin Kühnert answers journalists' questions in the t-online newsroom. (Source: t-online)

Kevin Kühnert answers journalists’ questions in the t-online newsroom. (Source: t-online)

What role does the car play in the SPD’s transport policy?

We have a pragmatic relationship with the car. It is simply necessary, especially in rural areas, and will remain so for a long time. Consistent climate protection requires a change of direction in terms of the type of drive, but no outlawing the car.

We thought the love for cars would be greater in the SPD. At least one could get the impression in the “petrol price debate”.

That was an amazing discussion. We only pointed out that it naturally makes a difference to people how quickly the cost of gasoline increases due to the price of CO2. Because they must first have the chance to buy a car without a combustion engine within a realistic time frame before they can barely pay for the fuel. And buying a car is simply a very rare purchase decision for private households.

With the famous “Bild” quote from your candidate for chancellor about the 16 cents, that came across differently. It gave the impression that Olaf Scholz only wanted to accuse the Greens of the price of petrol rising.

Our point was and is: We should not throw an agreement back on the heap a few months later.

Why? Too much speed has not been the problem of climate policy so far.

Because we are at the beginning of two decades in which we as a society must achieve a tremendous transformation. And if, even with the first small steps, people get the impression that a promise is no longer worth anything a few months later, we lose trust. That is not a plea against speed, but for the reliability of the measures. Because even if the facts of the climate crisis are crystal clear, this transformation requires a stable majority in society for many electoral periods.

How do you get that majority?

For example, by making the first steps of the transformation noticeably successful. For example, the change in the automotive industry, which is finally happening. When it becomes apparent that industry and the state are creating a balance of interests between climate protection, securing industrial jobs and technology leadership, that creates trust.

Kevin Kühnert (right) in conversation with t-online journalists Florian Harms (center) and Johannes Bebermeier. (Source: t-online)

Kevin Kühnert (right) in conversation with t-online journalists Florian Harms (center) and Johannes Bebermeier. (Source: t-online)

You are 32 years old, 12 years younger than the average German citizen. Do you feel that government policies over the past few years have adequately addressed the needs of the younger generation?

No, often not.

Where not?

It is obvious when it comes to climate protection. And that was due to a basic evil of the past decades: There was a lack of government investment. We come from a time when many have said that the state is too fat and that the markets can do everything better. When it comes to climate protection, we see that the markets often couldn’t do better on their own. At least not without the help of government investment. It was perfidious that this austerity policy should supposedly benefit future generations. The opposite was the case. Our worst debts today are the failed investments of the past.

You will probably sit in the Bundestag from autumn. Then what are you doing there?

If I am elected, I will be a member of the Bundestag. I take care of my constituency and specialist politics.

So without a spokesman’s post, without a parliamentary deputy post?

Some people may not be able to imagine that, but I consider a Bundestag mandate to be a really big task that does not require any further posts.

But post also means that you can help shape it.

Yeah yeah But I don’t lack opportunities to make myself heard. I have a very down-to-earth understanding of parliamentary work: It’s a craft that you first have to learn. I could have been on so many talk shows: If I am elected to the Bundestag, then I’ll be the new one.

And which areas of politics appeal to you as a newcomer?

Building, housing and urban development, that’s what I’m responsible for on the SPD party executive.

One of our regular readers recently wrote to us: Kevin Kühnert, he ought to be a candidate for chancellor one day. Can you imagine that?

With a little imagination, you can imagine a lot. But the thought of it doesn’t matter to me, so the idea is wasted energy.

Why don’t you get excited about the idea? You can move a lot there.

But you can do that elsewhere too. And you can also be Federal Chancellor and be very frugal in your programmatic ambitions. We have seen that in the past few years. And it was precisely against this void of content that I started doing politics with the Jusos.

To come back to the beginning of our conversation and to the fears of the Union: So there won’t be a Minister Kevin Kühnert under Olaf Scholz?

No. And with that, another election bubble for the CDU / CSU is imploding . They are really not going well.

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