The local elections last year in Oberursel saw a change in the ruling coalition. The parties CDU and FDP had held a majority for many years and suddenly found themselves replaced by a mixture of the Green, SPD and OBG parties.
At the end of the day, no party holds more than a third of the seats, so the only chance for the town’s parliament to move anything forward is to work together.
It is something that is reflected in the new structure of the town’s administration in the Rathaus. Split into three “Dezernaten” or departments, the three-man team now running the town is made up of the mayor who is a member of the SPD and elected separately, a member of the Green party, and perhaps the biggest surprise: a member of the CDU party. The new split between them reflects the specialities of those running them.
The mayor (Hans-Georg Brum, SPD), for example, is responsible for personnel matters, tourism, culture, the press, town planning and local business. You might call say they are things that belong “at the top”.
Alderman (Erster Stadtrat) Christof Fink from the Green party has – perhaps less surprisingly – taken over responsibility for environment issues, but also for energy, mobility, traffic, and even something called Bauaufsicht – the office that makes sure buildings are built the way they were approved. The combination of environment, energy and traffic into one department is apparently something quite rare in German town halls and is maybe a sign of the times, and definitely a sign of the fact that one fifth of the town voted for the Green party last year.
The other half of his department will be responsible for child-care provision, the library and social services. These are not exactly typical “green” topics, but challenging none the less, and especially with the amount of building work going on in the town at the moment demand for them is likely to increase.
Treasurer (Stadtkämmerer) Thorsten Schorr from the CDU party might seem an unlikely candidate for the office given that his party is in opposition, but it is worth considering that the party actually have the largest number of seats in the town’s parliament. Just not a majority. And it was a decision by that parliament to leave the party in charge of the town’s finances, something the ex-banker will be looking after along with tax collection, the registry office, Einwohnerbüro, police and fire services.
In a way it’s all very logical, and each seems to have the areas that they have their strengths in. The greens have energy and the environment, the CDU opposition have finance with law and order, and the mayor is the public face of the town whilst at the same time running the Rathaus.
So everyone’s a winner? Well, if they can work together like that then it should benefit everyone in the town.
Of course, if they get it wrong then they will be getting exactly those things wrong, that they canvass most strongly on at elections. So they can’t really afford to, can they?