Munich: Different opinions in the town hall coalition

The SPD wants to save the one hundred percent direct election of the migration advisory board from the reform ideas of the Greens. These, in turn, would like to have the cars out of the valley in the old town as soon as possible. Both resolutions were postponed for the time being. Both government partners have recently developed concepts with which they want to reduce the impact of the exploding energy costs. However, the Social Democrats and the Greens presented them separately. The two finally agreed once, but not on a common goal, but on a controlled breach of the coalition agreement: the SPD can officially push ahead with the planning for a car tunnel in the north of Munich with the CSU without risking the end of the cooperation.

What’s going on in Munich City Hall after two years of coalition? Didn’t two parties appear here with nothing less than the goal of laying down an ecological and social turning point? Reinventing the city of the future together?

At the moment, the coalition of Greens/Pink List and SPD/Volt gives the impression that it is above all reinventing itself and its own government work. There was enough controversy in the first two years, but now it has a new quality. So far, there has mostly been agreement on the matter, but the tone has sometimes ranged from unfriendly to toxic. Now they go their separate ways more often and openly, but at least outwardly the handling of it remains conciliatory.

The Greens parliamentary group leader Dominik Krause, who was newly elected two weeks ago, is trying to make the current accumulation of differences appear completely natural. There is “continued good cooperation” with the SPD, “we stand by the social-ecological project for Munich”. The fact that there are different attitudes on some topics and that there is therefore a greater need for discussion is “not surprising” with different parties. This is particularly evident in traffic issues such as the tunnel in the north of Munich and, on a much smaller scale, in the planned redesign of the valley.

Disputes in the city government: There are also very different attitudes to the planned tunnel in the north of Munich, which BMW wants.

There are also very different attitudes to the planned tunnel in the north of Munich, which BMW wants.

(Photo: Claus Schunk)

SPD parliamentary group leader Anne Hübner also assumes that there will be a rather random accumulation of differences in position and opinion, but from her point of view the cultivated dissent could become part of the style of government. In addition to all the joint projects that the Greens and SPD quietly plan and decide on, there are points “on which two different parties disagree. And I think that’s a good thing,” she says. The two big coalition parties should give each other “more legroom”. She credits the Greens with allowing the SPD, contrary to what was clearly stipulated in the coalition agreement, to support the car tunnel in the north and to overrule them with the CSU. “In the same framework, we will also have to concede to the Greens.”

Since the agreement in the coalition council on an “agree to disagree” on the tunnel issue, i.e. mutual tolerance of opposing attitudes, they have repeatedly had to explain why they allowed this to happen. “But what would be the alternative?” Krause says. The SPD had made its point clear and the Greens could not find a majority on the issue. That was “unpleasant”; However, he does not see a breach of the coalition agreement, although the document clearly states: “Planning for the tunnels in Schleißheimer Strasse and Tegernseer Landstrasse will be discontinued.” No breach of contract, at least on this language the coalition partners agree. This requires creativity: In their minds, they equated the tunnel sentence with a single route variant that will not come about for ecological reasons.

One who expresses herself much less reluctantly is Munich’s second mayor Katrin Habenschaden (Greens): With a view to a possible tunnel in the north of Munich and “requests for adjournment and delays in other projects”, she does not know whether the SPD is still “behind the turnaround in traffic, as I understand it”. In her view, the coalition partner often takes “one step forward and then two steps back” when it comes to transport issues.

Dispute in the city government: The cooperation with the newly elected Green party leaders Mona Fuchs and Dominik Krause has got off to a good start, according to the SPD.

According to the SPD, the cooperation with the newly elected leaders of the Greens, Mona Fuchs and Dominik Krause, has got off to a good start.

(Photo: Catherine Hess)

The SPD stands for the traffic turnaround, says parliamentary group leader Hübner. But more important “than symbolic politics” with an overall concept in the valley that is still completely immature from their point of view is that the citizens finally felt something of the traffic turnaround in their daily experience. The coalition has decided on 42 new cycle paths, but only a handful have been built. “Implement more, plan less”, she thinks that’s the right focus at the moment. The cooperation with the newly elected Greens parliamentary group leaders Mona Fuchs and Dominik Krause had got off to a good start, they were clear on the matter and binding in their tone.

Outwardly, one is left alone, even on the preferred platform for coalition taunts, the news service Twitter, the choice of words remained factual compared to previous quarrels. But in terms of content, the SPD and the Greens beat each other up with arguments that it just hissed. And even if the tone sounds moderate – nobody needs to expect that people will hug each other internally with joy about the differences of opinion.

Dispute in the city government: The Greens and the SPD have presented separately possible help for the people of Munich because of the rising energy prices.

The Greens and the SPD have presented separately possible help for the people of Munich because of the rising energy prices.

(Photo: Alessandra Schellnegger)

The Greens were really angry when the SPD presented their part of the aid package against rising energy prices in a separate press conference without prior consultation. And if the Greens and SPD have been negotiating a reform of the migration advisory board for two years, which is expressly stated in the coalition agreement, then it leaves its mark.

The CSU will keep it as it has been up to now: It will regularly point out the disagreement in the coalition with pleasure. If it suits their own positions, they will happily work with one of the two coalition partners to vote down the other. Each of these votes is a small scratch in the picture that the coalition gives. Eventually, this could result in a deeper crack.

After the local elections in 2026, the three large factions Greens, CSU and SPD will probably decide among themselves who will govern the city. An era similar to the 24-year red-green liaison between 1990 and 2014 is not apparent after two years of green-red.

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