BerlinIt is the first appearance of Thilo Sarrazin in this election campaign. Twelve days before the parliamentary elections, the 76-year-old met on Tuesday evening at the Weißensee lido to discuss the book “Sanierungsfall Berlin” by Marcel Luthe, the top candidate for Free Voters. In the press release of the “Forum Mittelstand”, which organizes the evening, there is talk of a book presentation, but it is more likely to be an election campaign event. Luthe’s work was published in May.

Around 70 people on deck chairs on the beach of the lake listen to the words of the former Berlin finance senator, Bundesbank board member and authors of controversial bestsellers such as “Germany is getting rid of itself” while some fire pots crackle. Sarrazin lets the audience know that it is even his first appearance in a Berlin election campaign since 2009. It must be important to him to support Luthe.

But before it comes to the top candidate of the Free Voters, Thilo Sarrazin talks a lot about Thilo Sarrazin that evening. It’s about his previous job as Berlin Senator for Finance. How he saved, brought income to the country and where he met resistance, how often his chair wobbled and how often he was scolded by Klaus Wowereit. Again and again Sarrazin returns to the leitmotif of his books: The politicians turned a blind eye to the big problems.

The weapon of the parliamentary question

This is where the 76-year-old speaker finally finds the connection point to Luthe’s book. He paid tribute to his work with the “weapon” of the parliamentary question. Luthe is considered the king of inquiries in Berlin, constantly questioning the Senate on everything from organized crime to dog pensions. Often with unsightly results for the senators of red-red-green. Sarrazin also sees room for improvement in some places in Luthe’s book.

He describes it as a myth that the Landesbank’s losses would have led to greater financial disadvantages for the city, as written there. He reveals internals as evidence. For example, that the Landesbank could be sold for 5.3 billion euros in 2007, but according to the own calculations of his department at the time, it was only worth 1.8 billion euros. You’d think that this is where the old master is speaking to the aspiring student: It’s a good start, but you can still improve, Marcel.

Luthe says he had never met Sarrazin before this event. But that Luthe could follow in Sarrazin’s footsteps as a thorn in the flesh of the Berlin establishment is not entirely absurd. The men have a lot in common. Both became pariahs in their respective parties after excelling with biting, high-profile criticism. In July 2020, the SPD’s highest court of arbitration declared Sarrazin’s expulsion from the party to be final. Although he had announced at the time that he would remain in the SPD through legal channels, he ended the legal battle in July of this year. Today he is non-party.

Put your finger in the wound

Luthe was expelled from the FDP parliamentary group in the House of Representatives in July 2020. In the following October, the 44-year-old entrepreneur himself took the consequences, resigned from the party and has been the top candidate for the Free Voters in Berlin since April. Sarrazin described Luthe’s experience as a “time-lapse” experience.

Both love to put their fingers in the wound, both do it in book form. But when asked whether Sarrazin, with all these parallels and in view of his appearance, would now also join the Free Voters, he did not want to say that evening. But when asked whether Luthe could be some kind of successor for him, Sarrazin said: “First he has to win an election, then become part of the Senate.” Then one would see. A denial sounds different.


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