Munich: Disagreement in the ecological initiative “Preserve green spaces” – Munich

Officially, everything is clear: the city council will decide on February 1 whether to accept the demands of the citizens’ initiative “Preserve green spaces” or whether there will be a referendum. But behind the scenes there is negotiation, argument and haggling over how to proceed. On Friday there was an open rift. However, not between the citizens’ initiatives and city politics, but among the operators of the citizens’ petition.

Christine Burger, who has been one of the key forces in recent years, raises serious allegations against the ÖDP. They hijacked the citizens’ initiative for their own interests, she said. Officially, the ÖDP only joined in 2022 and ultimately contributed a lot to the success. “We are extremely grateful for this, because we would not be able to handle a referendum or council decision on our own. But we do not approve of the fact that our referendum is used for party-political election campaign purposes,” said Burger.

Burger and Stefan Hofmeir, initiator of the first hour, were invited by the Greens and SPD to the city hall to negotiate an agreement on a city council resolution that could replace a referendum. The conversation was very constructive, says Burger, but she got the impression that the ÖDP’s fellow campaigners didn’t want an agreement: “Unfortunately, it’s obvious that the ÖDP needs our citizens’ initiative for their party-political purposes in the state election campaign.”

The second round of negotiations in the town hall is pending

ÖDP city councilor Tobias Ruff, one of the official spokespersons for the citizens’ initiative, countered coolly: the cooperation with Ms. Burger had ended, he said. Her behavior has been difficult for a long time, and she was excluded from the circle of sponsors last summer. A larger group has been invited to the second round of negotiations in the town hall, and Ruff will also be there. You go into this conversation openly, he said, but his demands are high. The protection of inner-city green spaces in particular must be 100 percent guaranteed, he said. The coalition rejects such a blanket regulation.

However, the Greens have an interest in avoiding a referendum in which environmentalists and citizens want to force them to supposedly be more ecological. The ÖDP, on the other hand, never misses an opportunity in the city council to accuse the other environmental party of a policy of ecological failure. Although, or perhaps because, the two parties often have the same goals, competition between them is fierce. Time and again, the ÖDP has pushed the Greens ahead of it with citizens’ petitions, such as the closure of the coal block in the North thermal power station.

Initiator Stefan Hofmeier also distances himself from his former comrade-in-arms, but that sounds far less cool with him than with Ruff. Hofmeir joined the ÖDP to gain more political weight for his efforts. He seems as if he sees too little will to reach an agreement among his still relatively new party friends, and too much with his previous comrade-in-arms Burger. For a “mediocre city council decision as a rotten compromise” he didn’t hang in there for six years, he said. Exciting discussions are pending when everyone involved, including Christine Burger, meets again next Monday in the town hall.

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