Saxon BSW boss about his party: ‘I voted for the Greens for a long time’

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Written By Maya Cantina

Jörg Scheibe is BSW boss in Saxony. The engineer is new to politics. A conversation about the objectives of his party and overlap with the CDU.

Jörg Scheibe presents Sahra Wagenknecht with a bouquet of flowers at the conference of the Saxon state party

Dresden, May 18, 2024: Jörg Scheibe presents Sahra Wagenknecht with a bouquet of flowers at the conference of the Saxon state party Photo: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa

taz: Mr Scheibe, you have been party leader of the “Alliance Sahra Wagenknecht” in Saxony for three months and are now the top candidate for the state elections in September. Do you want to become a real politician?

Jörg Scheibe: Yes. As a member of the state parliament I will be a real, full-time politician.

Jörg Scheibe, 61, has been one of the two presidents of the regional association BSW in Saxony since February. The engineer and entrepreneur runs a company in Chemnitz that plans air conditioning, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems for major construction projects in Saxony, Berlin and northern Iraq. He also teaches supply and environmental technology at the study academy in Glauchau, Saxony.

And your company?

I am a partner and director of my company. Then I pull myself out, there is no other way. I already have an authorized representative and I will make him a director. I also hold a professorship at the Academy in Glauchau and therefore work in the public service. If I take up political office as a Member of Parliament, I will be released for this period.

Politics is a craft. Have you already mastered this?

Six months ago I had nothing to do with it. But I see this as a new challenge. And I once read that Noah was also a beginner when he built the ark. The Titanic, on the other hand, was built by professionals (laughs).

Are there many political newcomers like you on board at the BSW in Saxony?

We have a good mix of people who have been in other parties or in parliament and know how it works. This is new to me. But I feel like I can find my way around it. I still respect this job: you are much more in the public eye and I have never had as many interview requests as I have lately.

Have you ever been to a party?

I was in the SED for a very short time in 1988 and left again shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall. I haven’t really been politically active since then.

What have been your political leanings so far?

I voted for the Greens for years out of ecological conviction. To me now it’s just the Olive Greens because of their attitude towards the military. And what they are doing now in government is a catastrophe.

How?

I am a strong supporter of an ecological restructuring of the economy to drastically reduce CO2 emissions and protect the climate. But you have to do this with the people, not against them. Before the last federal election, I had the impression that there was broad popular consensus that more needed to be done to protect the climate. But for most people this is now a red flag. This goes so far that some people doubt climate change altogether. Certain parties encourage this.

Not true?

No. The climate change we are now experiencing is largely caused by our emissions. As an entrepreneur, I deal with this topic a lot because of my work, and unfortunately it also means things like this poorly made energy law for buildings. I have to explain to my clients what works and what doesn’t. And I have to explain to my students at the academy what applies. I therefore have to completely revise my lectures almost every year.

What measures do you think would be useful?

It is very clear that we need to switch to renewable energy to ultimately become CO2-free. Until a few years ago, that is, until the war in Ukraine, natural gas was considered a useful bridging technology because it is the cleanest of the fossil fuels. Now a political decision has been made: no more gas from Russia. But it will take at least fifteen to twenty years before we can do without fossil energy sources, and as a highly industrial country we cannot say that until then we will be in the cold and no longer in the heat. That is why we must continue to buy natural gas from Russia.

Saxony sees that CDU Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer comparable. Can you imagine a coalition with him?

We will not be the stirrup holder for Mr. Kretschmer so that he can continue to govern. But what content we can implement depends on how well we do and whether the left, the Greens and the SPD get into the state parliament. If you can trust the predictions, we can become the third strongest party. But predictions are notoriously difficult – especially when they concern the future.

Where do you see the greatest overlap with the CDU in Saxony?

There are several overlaps, for example in the area of ​​migration policy or the Russia issue. Michael Kretschmer is committed to a negotiated solution with Russia and is in favor of putting the destroyed Nord Stream 1 pipeline back into service. We demand that too. Michael Kretschmer is virtually alone in his party.

Have you ever spoken to him?

We’ve talked before. I know the Prime Minister from my professional work: he supported the Reichenbach Cold Competence Center in Vogtland, which involves the Glauchau Vocational Academy, where I teach. But no official talks have taken place yet.

Which issue would be most important to you in coalition negotiations?

The The theme of peace. Our options in Saxony are limited, but we could initiate something through the Federal Council. Limiting migration is also important because the problem is a burning issue for many people. My hometown Chemnitz is certainly not a crime hotspot. But I hear from many people that they are afraid to go into the city at night, because there is always something happening. We need to talk openly about the fact that the perpetrators are often refugees.

Isn’t that said very often?

Of course, you cannot lump all refugees together: a Syrian works in my company, he lives here with his family, he has now been promoted and earns a decent wage. But there are also a large number of single young people who come to us. They are all young men and they cause trouble every now and then. It would be no different if it were a group of young German men in another country. Things happen that are not always pleasant. Politicians must respond to this and the police must be more present in some places.

Your election manifesto states that you want to attract foreign skilled workers. How is that possible?

We need foreign skilled workers. The US is leading the way: it recruits skilled workers worldwide. It is not without reason that they have so many Nobel Prize winners. They come from all over the world, but live and work in the US.

The federal party is more reserved in this regard.

That is a double-edged sword: if we recruit skilled workers here, they will be missing in their country. Here in Saxony, many doctors come from Eastern Europe, Poland or Hungary. You can’t blame them for opening a practice here, because their training is immediately recognized here and they earn a higher income here. But there is a huge shortage of doctors in Hungary, which is a huge problem there. Therefore this cannot be the right way.

Would you rather?

These people were trained in their country and training to become a doctor costs a lot of money. If you say we are recruiting skilled workers there, we should at least be honest and reimburse this country for the training costs.

That’s not in their program.

I would work for that.

Also in state government? You could even become a minister.

Participation in government is certainly a possibility, that is true. But now we have to conduct a real election campaign: first for the local elections, then for the European elections in June and then for the state parliament in the autumn. And then we will see what percentage and how many representatives we get in the state parliament and what results from that. What matters to us is the content.

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