Abendzeitung: Mr. Aiwanger, what do you think when you walk from the main train station to Stachus this spring 2024?

Hubert Aiwanger: That Munich has to be careful not to lose its friendly face as a cosmopolitan city with a heart. Munich has always been known for its clean and tidy cityscape.

Isn’t that the case anymore?

It’s not just about the area around the train station, just look at all the statues, they’re made of light sandstone, but many of them are barely recognizable. I always wonder why they don’t use a pressure washer and make the figures bright and friendly again.

The city’s economic officer, Clemens Baumgärtner, sounds concerned that dirt, vacancies and homeless people will become a problem for the business location. Is that an exaggeration? Or do you share the concern?

I certainly share that. If you go shopping and find yourself in situations where you don’t feel comfortable, that’s bad for the location. And: Munich must also ensure that it does not fall behind in the competition between cities. Asian cities in particular are immaculately spruced up.

Many ruins characterize the cityscape. Does that bother you?

We have to get faster again, that’s not a criticism of the city of Munich, it’s a general phenomenon. Tenders must go faster, construction must take place more quickly, and there can no longer be the impression that nothing will ever be finished.

They continue to advocate for the preservation of Galeria locations in Bavaria. Aren’t these pointless life-sustaining measures? Wouldn’t it be more honest to say: people buy online, the time of traditional department stores is over?

I wouldn’t generally see it that way. It’s about intelligently exploring where the advantage of stationary retail is. Where you can intelligently combine stationary and online, touch the goods, but then have them delivered in the right size, without having to walk around forever with shopping bags where there is no longer any parking space. There is no one recipe for all cities. And: You have to juggle subtenants and keep the house attractive; a lot of it depends on the skill of the entrepreneur.

While politics revolves around supporting the big ones, many small ones still have to nibble on repaying the Corona aid. Is that fair?

Counter question: If we were to say across the board that everything that was paid out would remain outside: would that be fair?

Is not it?

It would often be unfair to those who provided targeted information. If two companies needed 5,000 euros in the same starting point and one applied for 5,000 and one for 20,000 and you don’t have to pay anything back, then later they sit together at the business people’s get-together and they say: It’s pretty stupid that one of them was so modest. That wouldn’t be fair and the taxpayer has to pay for everything. Nevertheless, I do not want to deny that there are hardships in individual cases.

Is the Bavarian special route with its short shop opening times damaging the city center?

In general, I wouldn’t change anything about store closing times; opening hours also cost money. In some cases, after Corona, there was even a hint that we should even limit the times because the last hour costs the dealers a lot, even though hardly anyone comes anyway.


We Free Voters are pushing for more long sales nights so that municipalities can leave the shops open until midnight up to six times a year. I can bring life into the inner cities. And: We want to pave the way for digital small supermarkets without staff to be able to open 24 hours a day.

In Munich there is a trend with vending machine shops.

I’m particularly interested in rural areas and shops with up to 150 square meters. In this way we can improve local supplies in rural areas. If someone only comes once an hour, it’s not worth having staff there. But digital concepts will also play an increasingly important role in cities, for example with cash registers without staff.

Let’s take a look at Munich’s pedestrian zone. Are there already serious interested parties for the Old Academy?

Not to my knowledge.

The pharmaceutical company Novartis, which wanted to move in there, also pulled out, right?

I can’t say anything about that at the moment. One thing is certain: The Old Academy is in a prime location. A location like this is extremely attractive for every investor.

What alternative uses can you imagine?

Business people need to know that, so I don’t want to give any tips.


But I want to say one thing in principle: There is an increasing trend in Munich that people demonize consumption and making money and want consumption-free zones, social issues and culture everywhere. That’s all well and good, but the money has to come from somewhere.

Is it true that Benko wanted to take over the entire Old Academy from the Free State and in return offered the area on Schützenstrasse for exchange?

There were many thought models. It is all the more important that a new investor will soon get down to business there.

Do you still think it’s a big mistake that the city of Munich is pushing back on cars?

Yes! And this hostility to cars extends to how we deal with the IAA. You’d have to roll out the red carpet and be glad she’s there. Instead, the IAA always has to justify itself in some of the city’s politics. And that’s how it is when people go into town to shop. If you don’t even know which ring you’re allowed to drive on, then you’ll end up going somewhere else.

Is it not understandable if city dwellers do not want the exhaust fumes?

Yes, understandable. But cars are becoming increasingly emission-free. And bicycle tires and brakes also produce fine dust – and so do stoners, if you want to be nitpicking. The fact that locking out cars harms the economy is not discussed enough.

Do we seriously need new parking garages? Or should the city stop closing streets to cars?

It takes both. The general reduction in car traffic is a mistake and of course we need more parking spaces in the right places. And of course public transport also needs to become more reliable.

Does city politics risk that the IAA turns its back on Munich?

I would not go so far. But the mayor is subject to the constraints of his coalition. And the Greens are playing ideology and have no idea what damage they are causing, for tourism, but also for the car industry. Munich is still a car city – you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you.

By Felix Müller, Nina Job

The original for this article ““The Greens don’t know the damage they are causing”” comes from Abendzeitung.