There is a new candidate. But he still needs the nomination for a vote of the members. If necessary, the rank and file will have to decide twice.
For the SPD, the road to the Red City Hall goes through construction sites. Photo: dpa
The three-way fight for the succession of Governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit could become a four-way fight. Another interested party has submitted its application to the SPD: Dietmar Arnold (49), chairman of the "Berliner Unterwelten" association. However, he still has to clear formal hurdles in order to take part in the members’ vote. "I am convinced that the SPD deserves an alternative," Arnold told the taz. Meanwhile, the SPD leadership in Mitte spoke out in favor of Jan Stob, making him the first of the twelve district executive committees to do so.
In order to be able to run when the approximately 17,000 Berlin SPD members vote after the application deadline on 15. September by letter by Oct. 17, Arnold must be nominated by either the state executive, a district association or three of the 119 SPD departments. "That’s where I have to do some door-to-door canvassing now," Arnold said. He said he is counting on those who are not really convinced by the previous candidates Jan Stob, Raed Saleh and Michael Muller.
Arnold has been an SPD member for 25 years and is active in Tiergarten. The "Berliner Unterwelten" (Berlin Underworlds), which he runs full-time and has 470 members, explores underground sites and offers tours. In 2006, the association received the Prize for Monument Protection.
Arnold told the taz that he had given the matter careful thought, "this is no joke. While he didn’t think he had much of a chance, he said, there should be an alternative because the other applicants, all established officials and politicians, were very similar.
The CDU experienced a similar situation in 2008 when it was looking for a new state chairman. At that time, Frank Henkel, at that time parliamentary group leader and proposed by a CDU commission, was surprisingly joined by the ordinary party member Dieter Walther. Because he did not need any supporting votes according to the CDU statutes, he actually toured several regional conferences with Henkel.
SPD member Arnold, on the other hand, hadn’t really gotten through with his application when the district executive of the SPD Mitte convened on Monday evening and came out in favor of Stob as Wowereit’s successor. "There was only talk of three candidates," Arnold said. Surprisingly, there was no such pro-vote in the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district executive, which met in parallel and where Stob was formerly party leader and city councilor. District leader Julia Schimeta contradicted the impression that they were not behind him – on the contrary: "He has many sympathies here." But there is the attitude in the district association "that this is the hour of the members and not of the functionaries."
If necessary, these members should vote a second time if no candidate gets an absolute majority in the count on October 18. The runoff results are to be available on November 6, two days before the SPD state party conference. The red-black coalition will then elect the winner as the new head of government in the House of Representatives on December 11.