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Runoff election in Frankfurt: duel of the established


Today a runoff will decide who will become the new mayor of Frankfurt. With Uwe Becker and Mike Josef, two seasoned local politicians meet.

No matter what the outcome of the runoff election for the mayor’s office on Sunday, Frankfurt’s voters have already decided on one thing: reliability.

Because in the duel for the highest political office in the city, Uwe Becker (CDU) and Mike Josef (SPD) are two opponents who have not only been known in Frankfurt since their faces smiled at the citizens of thousands of election posters. Becker was a member of the magistrate for almost 15 years without interruption until 2021, and managed the finances of the fifth largest municipality in Germany as treasurer for many years. Josef, in turn, has been Head of Planning and Housing since 2016.

desire for normality

Two established local politicians. No experiments in the Frankfurt Römer. After the corruption scandal surrounding Mayor Peter Feldmann, who was voted out of office in November 2022, caused turmoil in the city for years, the desire for normality and continuity seems to have prevailed among voters.

They certainly had a different choice. No fewer than 20 names were on the ballot paper in the first ballot at the beginning of March. In addition to the candidates of the established parties, there are also serious political career changers and well-known eccentrics.

A sacked ex-mayor and a colorful field of applicants – actually the right ingredients for a gaudy election campaign. But pompous performances and mud fights were not announced on the Main. The issues of housing, security, climate and transport dominated the matter-of-fact, subdued election campaign. It turned out that at least the three largest parties – Greens, CDU and SPD – are not particularly far apart in their goals. The same can be said of the runoff candidates.

Search for affordable housing

Affordable living space, climate neutrality and new transport concepts: The main topics for Becker and Josef are essentially congruent. The arguments are less about goals than about the way to get there.

For example, when it comes to housing, SPD candidate Josef is backing a large-scale new building project in the north-west of the city, where a new district is to be built on previously undeveloped land. The project, vilified by critics as a “slave town”, is intended to create 7,000 new apartments and thus relieve the chronically tense Frankfurt rental market.

CDU candidate Becker, on the other hand, rejects the major project. Instead, he relies on densification in the existing districts.

The issue of traffic could decide the election

On the other hand, there are greater points of friction when it comes to transport. Both Becker and Josef are basically in favor of a “mobility turnaround” in favor of climate-friendly modes of transport. But while Josef makes it unmistakably clear that this can only be implemented at the expense of car traffic, CDU man Becker does not want to “drive the car out of the city”.

The traffic issue could well be decisive. Because although Becker landed well ahead of second-placed Josef (24 percent) in the first lap with 34.5 percent, he is not the favorite in the race. Both candidates have to compete for the Greens’ electorate, whose candidate Manuela Rottmann, with 21.3 percent, only just missed out on the run-off election.

Who do the Green supporters vote for?

It is taken for granted that the Greens voters are closer to Josef than Becker when it comes to transport. Especially since Becker has announced that if he wins the election, he will withdraw responsibility for the traffic department from the Greens in the magistrate. The Green faction in Römer has therefore already called for the election of Mike Josef.

But the electorate must first heed the call to the ballot box. If a not insignificant part of the Green voters decide to stay at home this time, it would probably be a disadvantage for Josef.

Becker, on the other hand, who can probably only count on a few “defects” from the Greens, must do everything in his power to ensure that everyone who would theoretically like to see him as mayor also finds their way to the polling station in a very practical way.

Both candidates are dependent on as many regular voters in their party as possible casting their votes on Sunday. In any case, there is room for improvement: in the first round of voting, the turnout was almost 40 percent.

Run-off election for the mayor’s office in Frankfurt aM

Frank Angermund, HR, 26.3.2023 8:46 a.m