3.2 km of asphalt

The news is a day old, but deserving of a post nonetheless, since it concerns the city whose name this blog takes. On September 18, there was an election in the federal state of Berlin. (Berlin is sort of a city/state hybrid — picture DC with statehood.) The Social Democrats (SPD) got the largest share of the vote, the Christian Democrats (CDU) came in distant second place, and the Greens — considered a natural ally of the SPD — scored enough of the vote to be able to form a coalition with the SPD. End of story. Or so you’d think.

But then the Greens and the SPD got into a fight over a road. 3.2 kilometers of a road, to be precise. See, the Greens campaigned against the tiny expansion to a highway circling the city center, which the SPD had supported. The SPD was willing to ditch the extension as long as it could allocate the federal money it was receiving to another project. But the federal government said no, and the Greens refused to budge, and so yesterday talks fell apart.

Which means we’re now looking at a grand coalition between the SPD and the CDU. On a national level, or in West Germany, that wouldn’t be too surprising. But in Berlin, it’s kind of strange. Here’s why.

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