You can see them together in brochures, at election campaign stands: Team Czaja! Katharina (42) and Sebastian Czaja (38). SIE employee at the Autobahn GmbH of the federal government, ER FDP top candidate in Berlin.
BZ: Most politicians have a strong separation between their private and professional lives. Why she not?
Katharina Czaja: My husband’s job affects us as a family. Our private life is very much shaped by it. Every now and then there are three of us at the election stand. Ours loves to distribute pinwheels. During the election campaign in particular, the calendar is so tight that there is no time for an intense weekend.
Sebastian Czaja: We are a team together and in this respect my wife supports me as much as I support her.
In which capacity of your husband did you first fall in love?
SHE: I actually believe in his single-mindedness. He knows exactly what he wants. Already when we met at a federal party conference. I was there at a booth for work and my husband quickly gave me to understand that his interest was less in the technical information than in my person. I really liked how clearly he communicated that. But it wasn’t a record pick-up.
And you with her?
HE: That she performed with a lot of character. She speaks clearly for her issues and positions. She is not only interested in the surface, but in the whole person.
On which political issues can you get into an argument?
HE: Because my wife worked in the energy industry for a long time, we discuss a lot about alternative drive technologies. When it comes to efficiency and hydrogen, I get one or two clues.
SHE: We don’t have a completely different opinion, but I am more often out and about in other parts of the city than my husband. Our daughter first really noticed the issue of homelessness at the Zoo station. That concerns us.
How much Katharina is there in Sebastian Czaja’s ideas?
HE: Indeed, when it comes to homelessness, for example, the search for a way out. In Berlin, for example, are opportunity houses like in Vienna possible, where homeless people are looked after by one contact person for all offices? You then also ask: ‘What is now? Or has the issue been pushed off? ‘
What changes are at the top of the agenda for you in Berlin?
HE: The theme of living. It is the social question of our time and the city. And mobility: How can we keep Berlin moving as a whole, expand local public transport so well that it is also powerful in the outskirts as it is in the inner S-Bahn ring at the moment. And the third topic is administration, a key topic for our business location, so that good company settlements are successful.
They both work hard and have a four year old daughter. How do you organize the support?
SHE: Very colorful. We are both very closely coordinated. Planning is everything. And mostly we are very lucky to be supported by a neighbor. We have a really good house community.
You call your daughter your pacemaker. Why?
HE: Because she sets the pace for me when I run and does it pretty well. With just under six minutes per kilometer, it sets an unlimited pace.
They are calling for new ways to make it easier for families, for example suggesting a 24-hour daycare center. How should you finance that?
HE: As a supplement to the daycare system. We have many single mothers and fathers, many of whom work shifts. In the hotel industry, nurses, doctors, the police, firefighters. The offers are on the table. You just have to have the political will to want to implement it.
You come from a craftsman’s household and want to support the craft in particular. Do you still lend a hand at home?
HE: There was now no acute need at home. But when my parents rebuilt a shed in the garden, I cleaned up the electrical system. Or when a repair is necessary somewhere on the sidewalk. Property obliges.
Only 18 percent of Berliners live in their own four walls. Would a higher rate be better?
HE: I think it is important that we as politicians set a good framework so that more property can be afforded. And that we open up the opportunity to actually have property.
You grew up in Mahlsdorf, live with your family in Zehlendorf, and are running for office in Wannsee. Do you still hit the wall in your mind?
HE: There is no one to say why are you running here? I was born in 1983. For me, Berlin is a city with over 90 different neighborhoods. I don’t think in east-west.
How did you end up in the south-west?
SHE: For us it’s a good mix, close to the city and green. I think you can get involved wherever you live. I’m also interested in what makes people tick. I think it’s nice to be with the older people in our house. They’ll take the parcels for us and I’ll help carry the shopping upstairs if it’s a bit more than a bag.
You come from North Rhine-Westphalia, are Catholic – is your daughter too?
SHE: We got married in a Catholic Church and she was baptized. That was important to us.
HE: Faith helps through everyday life because you often question yourself. What do you do and for whom? You don’t do it all for yourself, which a politician is always happy to assume. When I was traveling around town on the cold bus, I thought: Is it actually smart that we lose each other in quarrels and in small groups every day? How nice could it be if you tackle one or two issues together right across party lines in order to get them out of the way?
Read about it too
► Election campaign in Berlin – The CDU lacks creative ideas
► Election programs in check – which party is actually what in Berlin?
In private they have found their coalition of hearts. How does it look politically?
HE: Politically, we want a coalition of the middle. We exclude the AfD and the Left and of course we have large overlaps with the CDU and the SPD. At the moment I don’t have the imagination how to meet the Greens. To name one or two examples: the issue of property promotion. The question of expropriation, which for us is a red line. And how can we make everyone who needs their car a good deal with transport policy?
What do you wish your brother Mario, who is running for the CDU in Marzahn-Hellersdorf, for election Sunday?
HE: Personally, I wish him only the best, but politically gilded in all of Berlin: All votes are FDP.