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Germans grill Olaf Scholz over soaring cost of doner kebabs



The soaring cost of doner kebabs has led to growing calls in Germany for a government subsidy programme to keep the inflation-hit dish, one of the country’s favourites, affordable as politicians report it is frequently cited as a concern in doorstep conversations with voters.

The chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has become so used to being asked about the price of kebabs during public appearances that his government has even posted on social media to explain that price rises are in part due to rising wage and energy costs. “It’s quite striking that everywhere I go, mainly from young people, I’m asked whether there shouldn’t be a price brake for the doner,” Scholz has said.

The far-left Die Linke party has become the latest to seize on the topic, calling, in a proposal it wants to present to parliament, for the introduction of a Dönerpreisbremse or doner kebab price cap, similar to that introduced in some parts of the country to control high rents. It says kebabs are already €10 (£8.60) in some cities, rising from €4 just two years ago.

The party recommends a €4.9o price cap, and €2.90 for young people, especially those from lower income backgrounds, for whom it argues the dish – thinly sliced grilled meat topped with finely chopped vegetables, garlic or chilli sauce, and cradled in a folded flatbread – is a daily staple. It suggests every household could receive daily doner vouchers.

Sales of kebabs – introduced to Germany by Turkish immigrants, who adapted it for local tastes – total an estimated €7bn a year in Germany.

Based on the estimated 1.3bn doners that are consumed in the country each year – 400,000 a day in Berlin alone – such a subsidy programme would cost €4bn annually, Die Linke has calculated.

Hanna Steinmüller, an MP for the Greens, a party that more usually appeals to people to give up meat, addressed the issue in parliament earlier this year. “For young people right now it is an issue as important as where they will move when they leave home. I know it’s not an everyday issue for many people here,” she said to fellow MPs, “and that … it’s also something that might be ridiculed, but I think as voter representatives we are obliged to highlight these different perspectives”.

Scholz – approached at one event by a young German Turk who said “I pay €8 … speak to Putin, I want to pay €4” – has ruled out price controls as “not implementable” in a free market economy. He has instead praised the “good work of the European Central Bank” in bringing inflation down.

Among the responses on social media, some young people have called for the return of Angela Merkel, arguing that as chancellor, Scholz’s predecessor “had the doner under control”.

Deniz, a doner seller at a kiosk near Berlin’s Friedrichstrasse station, where the cost has risen from €3.90 to €7 in just more than two years, said he could not see how the price would come down any time soon. “We have been forced to push up the price, due to exploding rent, energy and food prices,” he said. “People talk to us all the time about ‘Dönerflation’, as if we were diddling them, but it’s completely out of our control.”

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