The Advent calendar presents Berliners who are burning for something. Behind door number six: activist Felix Herzog, co-founder of the party Vera.
And what’s in this little bag? Photo: dpa
site: Mr. Herzog, can you improve the world by founding a party?
Felix Herzog: You can at least try. And that’s what we wanted to dare to do.
In 2014, you founded the party Vera together with others.
I was active in the 100 Percent Tempelhof initiative and had previously launched the "Wowereit Resigns" initiative with other founding members. Founding a party was a logical consequence of the successful referendum. Ultimately, we wanted to make referendums unnecessary because a broad discourse had already taken place beforehand and thus a consensus could be reached.
32, has been politically active for more than 15 years, at times as a full-time activist. He was spokesman for the 100 percent Tempelhof initiative and tried to initiate a referendum to vote Klaus Wowereit out of office. In 2014, he and like-minded people founded the party Vera.
Trust, honesty, respect, decency was the party’s motto. A high standard.
Definitely. We wanted to get away from this standard approach. Everything that is in the name is missing from our politics.
But success in the elections failed to materialize. Did your message not get through?
Unfortunately, that’s true. We had problems formulating our message in the first place and then getting it out. It’s easy to talk about wanting more citizen participation – but implementation is a big challenge.
So what happened?
Some Vera people switched to the Democracy in Motion (DiB) party this year. But she, too, received only a few votes: a good 60,000, or 0.1 percent.
In an interview with the taz newspaper in 2014, Martin Wittau, one of Vera’s supporters, claimed to want to use "arguments and common sense" as the basis for political debate. Any other party would say the same.
Everyone who is politically active does so with common sense, even far-right parties invoke it. Actually, that was a nice statement that everyone could agree with, but ultimately it was empty of content.
Do you believe that politics corrupts?
No. But I do believe that power can change people. You have to make sure you stay true to yourself and reflect on your own work. My premise is that my political actions must make more people better off than before.
You have not been a member of Vera for a good year. Why?
There was a personal breach of trust. That was shortly before the Berlin parliamentary elections. At that time, it was clear that we hadn’t grown strong enough and didn’t have enough supporters and money to run a meaningful and successful election campaign.
Would you found a party again?
Never say never, they say. I learned a lot from starting a party. In the current democratic system, parties are the only way to have a direct impact.
Interview: Bert Schulz