You can’t go outside these days without being confronted with glossy placards on every lamp post with funny little claims about what we will get if we vote for one or other of the mayoral candidates. There are quite a lot of overlaps in what is being offered but interesting nothing overt discussing the key issue of immigrant integration. The promises that are most visible focus mainly on reducing the cost of public transport, down as far as completely free, or keeping down the spiralling costs or rent in Frankfurt. A couple of candidates are also talking about providing free nursery care (kita) for children although, given the shortage of places, the cost isn’t always the biggest problem.
If you are registered as a permanent resident of Frankfurt with the city hall then, and an EU citizen, you will have received your voting papers in the post sometime in the last few weeks. And here is a great resource fully in English on all the candidates positions. If you haven’t got them yet, tough. You will have to wait another 6 years for the next chance to vote for the Mayor.
On your voting form there will have been 12 candidates, some representing the main parties and then a list of other small parties and a number of independents. Here is a bit of back ground on your choice:
Peter Feldmann (SPD) – the current mayor for the last 6 years. He seems to have a lot of financial backing as his adverts are everywhere. He specifically campaigns on housing shortages and promises a freeze in rent levels but he has been pushing for additional affordable housing for the last few years without too much success. His biggest threat is that he has trouble promising anything new that he couldn’t have done before.
Bernadette Weyland (CDU – Merkel’s party) – the main competition for Feldmann and most likely to win. Her posters are almost as widespread as Feldmann’s and have the distinctive (and slightly irritating) O’Bernadette slogan – OB is the abbreviation of Mayor in German. She is making a claim by aggressively criticising Feldmann and his administration and specifically cites security and education as issues in the city. I don’t particularly like the atmosphere of her campaign but seems many local German’s do.
Volker Stein (indepedent) – a former deputy from the city who seems to be relatively popular – although a few of his adverts are rather silly to look at. The ad that comes to mind states: ‘Vote for cleanliness/hygene; vote for Volker Stein’. Clearly people think that Frankfurt could be cleaner than it is, which I don’t disagree with. He also wants to improve security and apparently this is his key message. Interestingly, he is proud of the fact that he has ‘never been sued’ and is a ‘specialist in reaching the limits of regulations‘. Sounds perfect…
Nargess Escandari-Grünberg (Green) – and former intergration commissioner. She is pushing as top priority a €365 annual public transport ticket (currently only available for children). This target has already been trumped by some candidates offering it for free, and also a national discussion about offering it for free as well to reduce air pollution in cities. Her biggest issue is that she can’t explain how she will fund it other than saying that her first day on the job will be to get all department heads in for a discussion on saving money.
The remaining candidates are independents who mainly campaign on isues of environment, housing prices and transport costs. All offer extreme promises happy in the knowledge that they will never have to deliver while still spurring the main candidates to discuss issues more openly. If you are more interested, the FNP has a good round up here in German.