<!–:en–>Interview with Dirk Feiertag, Candidate for Mayor of Leipzig <!–:–><!–:de–>Interview mit Dirk Feiertag, Oberbürgermeister Kandidat der Stadt Leipzig<!–:–><!–:ru–>Interview with Dirk Feiertag, Candidate for Mayor of Leipzig <!–:–>

 “I don’t want to be a moralizer”

The 33 year-old lawyer Dirk Feiertag wants to become mayor of Leipzig on 27th January 2013. In the interview the independent candidate talks about the fraud of Hartz IV recipients, ticketless local transport and his chances of winning the elections.

English-Team:
Mr Feiertag, if you won the elections, you would be the youngest mayor of Leipzig since Reunification. Aren’t you worried that people won’t take you seriously?

Dirk Feiertag:
Absolutely not. I have done my homework. I am a lawyer and I am well informed about how administration works legally. The other thing is that I have been politically active for many years. I know how people in a large group work together well.

English-Team:
What qualities must a city leader have?

Dirk Feiertag:
A mayor should know about administration, be in touch with the people and ensure that the administration acts lawfully.

English-Team:
You stress time and again that you don’t want to become part of “Leipzig’s clique”. But don’t you think that that will happen sooner or later?

Dirk Feiertag:
I have been politically active since the age of 13. I have grown up in the youth environmental movement. I have also chosen my profession as a lawyer very deliberately, in order to fight against unlawful administration conduct, for greater social commitment by the state and for an ecological co-existence. And during all these years I have remained true to these principles – and of course I will continue to do so as mayor.

English-Team:
When did you make the decision to stand as a candidate?

Dirk Feiertag:
In recent years I have become increasingly annoyed by the city administration. I have observed that not only has it dealt with several cases unlawfully, but also on a large scale. For instance, regarding accommodation costs for Hartz IV recipients. It is worded quietly but very openly that it is cheaper to pay lawyers of the few ALG II recipients who are willing to complain. However the majority of Hartz IV recipients don’t dare do this, as they receive less money for rent and must pay it themselves out of the low standard rate. That is a worthwhile saving for the city. And that can’t be.

English-Team:
One of your campaign propositions reads: State administration must become more transparent. A nice slogan but how is this claim to be implemented?

Dirk Feiertag:
Transparency means that every citizen must be able to go to the city administration and say: I want to be informed about this. The city administration must then say to the citizen what they have decided in a specific case and allow them to look at the administrative records. For citizens to participate, they need to be fully informed.

English-Team:
But isn’t rather a general disillusion with politics responsible for only a small number of people being interested in local politics?

Dirk Feiertag:
Disillusion with politics originates as a result of people thinking: We can’t change anything anyway. What the city of Leipzig has understood until now by citizen participation is really a PR campaign. In the future there must be real citizen participation forums where people realize that they can really talk with each other. When citizens are taken seriously and they realize that their suggestions for improvement are being implemented, then this encourages an interest in politics.

English-Team:
You want to do away with tickets for public transport. How is this going to be financed?

Dirk Feiertag:
I am calling for a ticketless but not free public transportation network (ÖPNV). What happens currently is that the system is partly financed by tickets, which in the end costs more than creating a ticketless system. The whole thing would be financed by contributions from Leipzig residents and Leipzig businesses that would benefit from a ticketless ÖPNV, and by tourist taxes. This means that we finance local transport in a different way, by a kind of tax.

English-Team:
What advantages does it have for the city?

Dirk Feiertag:
It would be very innovative. Leipzig would thereby be a beacon in Europe and that would improve the profile of the city. You wouldn’t need any ticket machines, inspectors or ticket marketing. You actually save money and increase convenience at the same time. So more people would also change from cars which damage the climate to trains.

English-Team:
Many car drivers won’t be enthusiastic about this idea.

Dirk Feiertag:
I don’t want to be a moralizer either. I have a bicycle, I like walking, I travel a lot on the ÖPNV, but I also have a car. Everyone must decide for themselves what is convenient. That’s why I also campaign for different transport users to work together and not against each other.

English-Team:
Change of topic: 40,000 immigrants live in Leipzig. What will you do for this segment of the population if you become mayor?

Dirk Feiertag:
The interests of this group should receive more attention. People, who have an immigrant background, are often treated worse at the job centre in Leipzig. I know this from my work as a social lawyer. I would like to take action against this discrimination, which also still exists in the administration. If you think about the people who come to Germany as refugees, in my opinion the living conditions in the refugee homes are inhumane. I am committed to placing nearly all refugees in normal housing.

English-Team:
More and more foreign businesses such as the company Amazon have settled in Leipzig. Would you like to create more incentives for international companies in the future?

Dirk Feiertag:
Above all, I will promote the strengthening of small and medium-sized companies, because they put down deep roots in Leipzig. I have a very ambivalent relationship with international companies such as Amazon. My concern is to achieve social and ecological city development. And that also includes jobs. As a lawyer, I know exactly what Amazon jobs are about, here they consist of very low wages. Many Amazon employees are additionally Hartz IV recipients and in my opinion that is not socially sustainable. As mayor, I will also campaign so that Amazon isn’t co-financed by the city.

English-Team:
Does that mean that you are sceptical about such large companies?

Dirk Feiertag:
If they operate under fair conditions, then of course I am happy. I am against — be it an exemption from site taxes or low-cost provision of commercial spaces — honouring such companies with gifts, which then after one or two years go bankrupt or move to the next country.

English-Team:
Speaking of migration: People, especially young people, often leave Leipzig because they find a job in the western states. What do you want to do to counter this trend?

Dirk Feiertag:
One thing that the city of Leipzig can do more is, for example, going to graduates – especially in the technology sector – and saying: So you don’t want to stay here in Leipzig. We will provide you with cooperation partners, especially as regards to business start-ups.

English-Team:
To finish, hand on heart: As an independent candidate, have you really got a chance of winning the election?

Dirk Feiertag:
In the city of Markranstädt, immediately before the gates of Leipzig, an independent candidate managed to win the mayoral elections just a few weeks ago. And that is not an isolated case. Especially in East Germany a larger proportion of mayoral candidates are elected independently. Many citizens have had enough of parties and finally want issue-based politics. And that works better with an independent candidate.  So I think my chances are very good.

The interview was carried out by Gina Apitz for English-Team.

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