On Sunday evening at their state party conference, the Berlin SPD spoke out in favor of stopping the planning of the further construction of the A100 to Friedrichshain and Pankow. The delegates voted for this with a clear majority of almost 65 percent. In the previous debate, a large majority of the speakers had already spoken out in favor of the planning freeze.
The SPD is now in favor of the Berlin House of Representatives changing the land use plan for the so-called reserve areas for the 17th construction phase and withdrawing the project application, which the red-black Senate had once made, from the requirements plan for federal trunk roads. That would mean the end of the project. At the federal level, the SPD should advocate an end to the planning by the Federal Ministry of Transport.
An application was approved by the district associations in Mitte, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and the Jusos, and the application commission had also recommended approval before the party conference. The decision comes at the end of years of debate within the party about the need for the 17th construction phase.
Yannick Haan from the Mitte district association argued: “Let’s end a debate that we’ve been having for 20 years and let’s end the freeway expansion. The FDP is forcing us to actively oppose the freeway.”
Other speakers, such as Marie Scharfenberg from Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, cited the high costs of up to one billion euros for the construction phase: “We can use this to build 4,000 kilometers of cycle paths or 30 new schools.”
The Federal Ministry of Transport is pushing ahead with planning
In the end, the topic only had any political relevance at all, because the Federal Ministry of Transport pushed ahead with the planning for the further construction in a publicly effective manner. Against the will of the Senate, planning for the 17th construction phase was officially put out to tender. The parliamentary state secretary in the Federal Ministry of Transport, Daniela Kluckert (FDP), made it clear that further construction had been decided.
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In contrast, the coalition agreement between the SPD, the Greens and the Left Party stipulates that the state of Berlin will not undertake any further planning for the further construction of the city motorway in the current legislative period. This is in particular at the request of the Greens and the Left in the paper. The SPD recently had no clear stance on the issue, but last year called for a public survey on a possible further construction.
Unlike in previous years, the two party chairmen, Franziska Giffey and Raed Saleh, signaled their openness to talks about the end of the 17th construction phase before the party conference. In previous years, Klaus Wowereit and Michael Müller even officially dropped coalition negotiations with the Greens because of different attitudes towards the expansion of the city motorway. In Berlin, all three current coalition parties are now against further construction.
The transport policy spokesman for the FDP, Felix Reifschneider, criticized the decision on Sunday: “The SPD Berlin is staggering programmatically. The decision against the A100 is a decision against reliability and the ongoing plans of the federal government. Berlin should only decide on the basis of the plans.”
SPD votes surprisingly for expropriation law
Surprisingly, another change of course was decided on Sunday: In the expropriation debate, the Berlin SPD now wants to advocate an expropriation law as quickly as possible if the Expropriation Commission votes positively for the possibility of socialization. At the same time, it was decided that the results would have to be presented to the commission in spring 2023.
The party leadership had actually tried to weaken an application by the Jusos on the subject before the party congress. But on Sunday, a clear shift to the left was passed in the decision-making process. Especially Berlin’s governing mayor and SPD leader, Franziska Giffey, is unlikely to like her party’s decision.
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Just a few days ago, she said in the Tagesspiegel interview: “Berlin is being looked at very closely throughout Germany and internationally. Let’s send out the message: In Berlin, property is being expropriated again. Or: In Berlin we are working together to solve the problems to solve the city.” Above all, she was alluding to her housing alliance, which was designed for cooperation. “It’s the opposite of what expropriation means.”
The Berlin FDP faction leader Sebastian Czaja reacted on Twitter on Sunday evening to the decisions of the SPD: “Franziska Giffey lost her party today,” he said. “And everything she campaigned for. She is rightly against expropriations and for the A100. The fact that the SPD Berlin has now cleared this is a public humiliation.”
Criticism of the A100 decision also came from the Berlin Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK). Its general manager, Jan Eder, called the SPD’s rejection of the further construction of the city autobahn “short-sighted”: “Even more than 30 years after the fall of the Wall, Berlin’s economic development power is still suffering from the lack of a link between the road networks of both former parts.” He argued that, for example, “the potential of the commercial space in the north-east could not be fully exploited because the connection to the other economic centers of the city, to BER and beyond is still interrupted.”
Franziska Giffey and her co-boss Raed Saleh were re-elected state chairmen on Sunday with weak results. Giffey received almost 59 percent of the votes, Saleh received 57 percent. Both had no opponents.