Has the demonization slowed down all the black money

Outer Alster, Schöne Aussicht 26: Ole von Beust asked for an interview in the smart guest house of the Hamburg Senate. Time seems to have stood still here in 1900: busts adorn the entrance area, the interior of the rooms consists of antique furniture, oil paintings from the Canaletto School hang on the walls, only the notebook on an old secretary is reminiscent of the 21st century. The dignified, Hanseatic counterpart to the Bavarian image of laptop and lederhosen.

sueddeutsche.de: Mr. von Beust, the CDU lost a massive amount in the elections in Hesse. What conclusions do you draw from this for your own election campaign?

Ole von Beust: Hessen is Hessen and Hamburg is Hamburg. We are North Germans, and that's why I find it rather interesting how Christian Wulff managed to achieve such a good result in Lower Saxony.

sueddeutsche.de: So do you choose Wulff's recipe?

Beust: Yes - with a clearly positive balance sheet, with an election campaign that is very much tailored to his person and with an argumentative, relaxed North German manner that is not exaggerated. I will also lead the election campaign in this way.

sueddeutsche.de: Roland Koch was until recently the second most powerful politician in the CDU, after the Chancellor. Is it now over with the power factor cook in the Union after the Hessen election?

Beust: I do not think so.

sueddeutsche.de: But the election debacle has had an impact on his position.

Beust: Election winners are always better off than when things didn't go so well. On the other hand, I and many others appreciate Roland Koch because of his intelligence, his strategic thinking and his incredible reliability of character. Even a disappointing result does not change these properties.

sueddeutsche.de: How do you intend to deal with the issue of juvenile delinquency in the election campaign?

Beust: I do not believe in limiting the issue of juvenile delinquency to foreign perpetrators or those with a migration background. When people are violent, I don't care whether they are foreigners or Germans. Furthermore, it would be wrong to limit the measures to repression. Warning shot arrest is certainly a good idea, but the key question is, what can we do to keep people from becoming criminals?

On the next page you can read what Ole von Beust says about the black-green option and what shortcomings he sees with red-green and the Union in the earlier integration policy.

"Against a demonization of the left"

sueddeutsche.de: In the open letter you called for the CDU to rethink integration policy. What should happen there?

Beust: Both of the major people's parties made great mistakes in matters of integration policy up until the 1990s. The SPD and the Greens propagated a multicultural romanticism - in the naive hope that integration would take care of itself. And we in the Union also pushed the problem aside.

sueddeutsche.de: And what do you want to change now?

Beust: The truth is: we have to take massive care of integration. We started with it in Hamburg, and we will continue to do so.

sueddeutsche.de: Such as?

Beust: We have introduced language tests for children before they start school. And if there are deficits - by the way, this is also partly the case with German children - then there are free and compulsory German lessons. In areas with a high proportion of foreigners, we have reduced the size of the first grades of primary school to under 20 children. I've made sure that wherever the city provides training, the proportion of trainees with a migration background is now over ten percent, and the trend is rising. When we came into government, that number was not even half that large.

sueddeutsche.de: If integration is not your core issue: Which topics should spark your election campaign?

Beust: We won't suddenly come up with surprises and unexpected campaign blasts. You can't do politics like that. You can't fool people. I rely on calm, credibility and authenticity. I also see the personal sympathy that is shown to me as a great opportunity. I will personally be very involved in this election campaign.

sueddeutsche.de: Even so, you run the risk of missing your electoral goal - defending the absolute majority. In the polls, you are far from it. The desired coalition partner FDP may not get into the citizenship ...

Beust: ... in the elections in Hesse and Lower Saxony, the FDP sometimes got double-digit results in the cities ...

sueddeutsche.de: But in Hamburg the liberals have been weak for years, they play almost no role in the perception. Why is that?

Beust: Once you've been away from Parliament for a while, it's difficult to get noticed again. But do not underestimate the Hamburg FDP.

sueddeutsche.de: Because the absolute majority or a coalition with the FDP is running out, you have thought out loud about another constellation: black-green.

Beust: These were purely mathematical considerations at an internal meeting of the CDU federal executive committee, nothing more. I am fighting for clear conditions and a clear majority for the CDU.

sueddeutsche.de: But surely it would be important for voters to speak openly about the covenants they would make before the election.

Beust: No. If you think openly about such options, it immediately means: He no longer believes in victory. Since I firmly believe in victory, there is no reason to cause irritation.

sueddeutsche.de: Her announcement that she would abandon politics entirely in the event of a defeat has also caused irritation.

Beust: Yes, I said that, and it is.

sueddeutsche.de: You have been interpreted as being lazy.

Beust: That's on the edge of the macabre. I said that because the office of Hamburg mayor is so close to my heart that I only want this office and none else. A politician who says of himself that he just wants to be a politician all his life, no matter what position, I would deeply distrust him. I am specifically interested in this task in Hamburg.

On the next page you can read why Roland Koch will not be involved in the Hamburg election campaign and what Ole von Beust's image of Hamburg is.

"Against a demonization of the left"

sueddeutsche.de: Where does the defeat start for you?

Beust: As I said: The Hamburg mayor's office is the most beautiful thing there is for me. I only strive for that and no other. If the parliamentary majority allows me to continue to exercise this office, I will be happy.

sueddeutsche.de: Would a minus in the order of magnitude of twelve percentage points, as Koch's CDU had to accept, also be a reason to give up politics?

Beust: That is an absolutely hypothetical question that does not arise. Cloudy thoughts cloud the chances of success. If you ask a favorite sprinter just before the Olympics what they'll do when they finish fourth, their answer will be, I train to win gold.

sueddeutsche.de: Would you be available for a grand coalition as mayor?

Beust: I'm fighting for my own CDU majority, period.

sueddeutsche.de: While your challenger from the SPD, Michael Naumann, has been on the streets for a long time, take your time as mayor. When does your election campaign really start?

Beust: We started massively! Our planning has two phases: First, to show a strong personal presence from the mayor's office. And then to do a massive election campaign the four weeks before the polls.

sueddeutsche.de: Which celebrity party friends will help you?

Beust: Some! The Chancellor comes several times, as does Ms. von der Leyen, Messrs. Schäuble, Wulff and Carstensen ...

sueddeutsche.de: And Roland Koch?

Beust: He does not. After all, he is busy forming a government.

sueddeutsche.de: Christian Wulff too.

Beust: (laughs) But he doesn't travel to Hamburg as long as Koch does. Joking aside: Carstensen and Wulff are North Germans, that's the reason. So our appointments are well attended, the billposting is in full swing, and we are now probably more present than the SPD.

sueddeutsche.de: What is the image of Hamburg that you want to embody and portray?

Beust: Hamburg is an economically strong and extremely successful city that also uses its economic success to compensate for social upheavals bit by bit - but without budgetary risks and without a pump. A city that more and more tourists visit and that is inhabited by people who tackle many problems with citizenship and on their own initiative, instead of leaving the solution to the state alone.

sueddeutsche.de: Your opponent Naumann, on the other hand, adheres to the Brechtian motto: You can't see those in the dark. Isn't your Senate doing enough for the socially disadvantaged?

Beust: You make them invisible in the dark by putting a Cain mark on them as a tactic for election campaigns. The SPD has stigmatized entire neighborhoods as problem areas, which I don't believe in at all. We spend a lot of money on active social urban development. And the social problems did not arise in the six years of our government - but in the seventies, eighties and nineties.

Read on the next page what Ole von Beust meant when he said of his SPD challenger Michael Naumann: "Boy, you still have a lot to learn."

"Against a demonization of the left"

sueddeutsche.de: But the SPD promises to do a lot more.

Beust: To believe that these problems could be eliminated permanently on credit, and to win an election by promising everything for everyone, I believe to be wrong. That will not go well. And by the way: Nobody believes it either.

sueddeutsche.de: How is your personal relationship with Michael Naumann?

Beust: To be honest, I hardly know him. After being nominated as the top candidate for the SPD, he introduced himself, which I found very nice. And a few days ago I happened to meet him with his wife on the train. But beyond small talk, we haven't had an in-depth conversation.

sueddeutsche.de: Addressed to Michael Naumann, you publicly said the following sentence: "Boy, you still have a lot to learn." What else does he have to learn?

Beust: How to deal with money, how to lead responsibly. Even a top candidate of the opposition should resist the temptation to promise everything to everyone. He says, here, for culture, times 50 million euros, a local office for Wilhelmsburg, he wants to build new municipal utilities and so on and so forth. If you add that up, you come up with a billion euro package of election promises. That is completely absurd.

You either have to drive up the fees and taxes enormously or the debt. Responsibility also means showing your colors in matters of fate. Or you take the subject of fairway adjustment of the Elbe ...

sueddeutsche.de: ... You mean the deepening of the fairway for large container ships. Because you fear consequences for this project, your Senate does not participate in the registration for the Wadden Sea as a World Heritage Site with Unesco.

Beust: That is a question of fate for Hamburg. We need this fairway adjustment. And then Mr. Naumann wobbles because the SPD and its Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel want to register the Wadden Sea as a World Heritage Site. Naumann has now said that he was also against the registration because of Hamburg's interests. In and of itself, a sensible attitude. But when he is asked about it, he doesn't want to talk about it. It was just an internal statement. You can't run a city like that.

sueddeutsche.de: Your course on world natural heritage does not exactly promote the image of the CDU Senate. First, Hamburg was in favor of applying for the Wadden Sea National Parks to be included in this prestigious Unesco list for a long time. Now you have braked at the last moment. And not only the environmentalists, but also their neighboring countries say that the deepening of the Elbe you are planning would not be endangered if the Wadden Sea were registered as a World Heritage Site. That was already thought of in the application.

Beust: We cannot rule that out and I am not taking any residual risk at the expense of the jobs in the port. And it would have been a disaster if the adjustment of the Elbe fairway had failed due to a careless registration of the Wadden Sea. I tell you: if you ask the people of Hamburg, the vast majority will tell you: the Senate is right about that.

sueddeutsche.de: So you don't want the Wadden Sea to be declared a World Heritage Site?

Beust: It depends on the time. A strong port of Hamburg as a job engine is more important to me than immediate registration as a world natural heritage site. You can do that in a year and a half, when the fairway adjustment is through. Then it will still work. A deadline is simply wrong.

Read on the next page why Ole von Beust considers a "demonization of the left" to be counterproductive.

"Against a demonization of the left"

sueddeutsche.de: In the election campaign you are repeatedly accused of withdrawing from politics too often, and of not being in the city enough at all. How do you live with such an accusation?

Beust: If you base your own happiness on what some people viciously say about you, then you will have a very unhappy life.

sueddeutsche.de: Will there be a TV duel between you and Naumann?

Beust: We offered the Social Democrats four dates, including the Sunday and Monday before the election. They just have to say yes, it's not me.

sueddeutsche.de: The Left Party can also count on a move into the citizenship in Hamburg. In Hesse and Lower Saxony, the CDU has also lost voters to the Left Party. Is it your job to do something against the Left Party in the election campaign?

Beust: The question is how. I think the Left Party's electorate comes from two sources. On the one hand there are brave old and new communists who cannot be persuaded - but that is also their right, after all, we live in a free country. The larger proportion, however, are protest voters. Some people there voted for DVU earlier and now for the Left. The best way to retain protest voters is to have little reason to protest.

sueddeutsche.de: So how are you going to deal with her?