Local Elections in Oberursel

The centre of OberurselWith local elections taking place in Oberursel tomorrow, amongst other things for the town parliament (Stadtparlament), I decided to take a trip into the town centre this morning and see what the political parties had to say for themselves.

In particular I wanted to know about plans to replace the town swimming pool, which has been closed for several years.  Recently there has been some discussion about the town selling off land to finance the building work.  This would not be so bad, if there was not already a sports field on it!

Then I wanted to know what plans the town has for the future of the schools here, in particular any plans for Ganztagsschulenschools that teach all day rather than just in the morning.

And finally I wanted to see what they had to say about the forthcoming Hessentag, in particular about the lack of information for businesses in the town and my recent attempts to get a permit to enter the closed-off part of the town in order to visit my customers during the event.

I was also interested to see how the parties approached me, as an EU citizen (there are other elections taking place tomorrow, that I am not allowed to vote in), and in general how prepared they were to answer questions from the public.  I went along the stands in the order that they were on the street.

CDU

I received one of my warmest welcomes at the CDU stand, and some of the most detailed information.  They would like to sell the sports field and the current swimming pool car park, but the number of car parking spaces would remain the same – just be on a different part of the complex.  This is something that I haven’t read previously.  Although I am somewhat sceptical about their plan to offer the sports clubs sponsored transport to other parts of the town, I can understand their predicament because they are trying to please the swimming clubs as well and keep everyone happy.

We did talk about schools, but other than how difficult it is to expand them I did not learn much, although I am at a loss to understand why the current expansion of the town’s grammar school did not include making it into a Ganztagsschule.

There was no response to my mentioning the Hessentag, but other than that I did at least feel as if someone took time to explain their policies to me.

FDP

The FDP were as good as presenting themselves as stereotypical liberals.  They have “agreed with the CDU” on the matter of the swimming pool – to the extent of putting out joint literature.  They are keeping themselves out of the Ganztagsschule discussion, but the person I spoke to did not think this was a viable solution for our schools.  Hessentag? There’s nothing they can do about it, and their members also have problems to deal with such as the rubbish collection being cancelled during the event.

In fact, the whole discussion felt a bit like “we don’t have an opinion”, or if they do they did not want to talk to me about it.

Die Linke

My visit to the Linke stand did not start off well, because the first person I met was more interested in explaining the other elections going on tomorrow, and did not seem to understand that I could not vote in them.  Eventually her colleague took over, and left her to pack up the stand (an hour before the other parties!)

The party would like to build the swimming pool as soon as possibly, even if costs more, and then cancel other projects in the town pay for it.  They did not want to talk about school, because that is a state (Land) thing.

OBG

OBG stands for Oberurseler Bürgergemeinschaft, ie. it is not even a regional party, but one that you only find in Oberursel.

They would also like to finance the swimming pool by cancelling other projects that they see as unnecessary, and are in favour of extending the length of the school day.

Interestingly it was here that I had one of the longest discussions about the Hessentag, especially about how it is going to affect local businesses.  For the first time, I was asked for my name and address to that someone could look into my problem and see if a solution can be found!

Die Grünen

I talked quite a bit about the Hessentag here as well – especially the question of whether it is going to be “Klimaneutral” (ie. have a zero-CO2 balance).  According to the Green party, there are some projects working towards this, but it is only going to be achieved by buying carbon credits).

Then we did have quite a good discussion about schools, but a lot of it theoretical because again it is not something the town can do much about.

They would like to sell the car park and not the sports field to finance the swimming pool, accept that doing away with a car park altogether is not an option.

SPD

My visit to the SPD stand started off as a typical opposition party talk – they could tell me what the other parties are doing wrong and they did not vote for them, but very little in the way of how they would do things differently as far as the swimming pool is concerned.

Schools were almost a non-issue – because it’s a state thing.

My biggest shock was when I mentioned my Hessentag problem, which they did vote for.  After listening to how I was having problems getting a permit to enter the town during the festival, I was whisked off to the mayor (who is also from that party).

However his first reaction was “das wird nicht gehen” – “that won’t be possible”.  After the SPD candidate explained the situation to him in more detail, we got as far as “müssen Sie wirklich in allen Zonen?” – “do you really need to access to all zones?” and finally the offer to send him an e-mail next week so that he can look into it.

To be honest, I do not know quite what to make of that offer.  It reminds me of the information evening last year, when anyone with a problem did not get their question answered and was told instead to contact the Rathaus .  Was it happening to me now?  I shall write that e-mail and then we will see what happens.

Summing up

Manifesto brochuresI learnt a lot this morning to help me decide who to give my votes to tomorrow.  Some parties took more time for me than others, in some cases I was talking to top people within the town and sometimes I was talking to specialists for particular topics.  But sometimes I felt as if I was just meant to take a manifesto flyer and move on.

I found quite a lot of support for Ganztagsschulen, but a reluctance for the town to get involved and put any pressure on higher levels of government to introduce them – even to the extent of being told that this could have a knock-on effect on other areas, such as how to deal with the people currently employed to run homework clubs and similar schemes.

But it was definitely a worthwhile exercise, and I found several candidates who I would like to see in the town parliament, even if I do not entirely agree with their policies and would prefer their party not to have a majority.

Luckily I have 45 votes tomorrow and look forward to Kumulieren und Panaschieren.

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About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

Comments

  1. http://Beutebayerin says

    This is a very informative summary of what is happening out there.

    I might even go and vote tomorrow. I just might…

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