Redial due to glitches
Traffic lights are losing ground in Berlin – the CDU and AfD are gaining ground
February 11, 2024, 8:58 p.m
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After a good three years, Berlin has now also passed the 2021 federal election. The partial re-election in the federal capital does not cause major upheavals in the Bundestag, but is still a pointer for the traffic light government. Almost all votes have now been counted.
Gains for the CDU and AfD, losses for the traffic light parties SPD and FDP and only a small loss for the Greens: In the partial repeat of the federal election in Berlin, the federal trend has prevailed. After counting almost all votes (99.9 percent), the SPD remains the strongest party in the capital with 22.3 percent (-1.2 percentage points), closely followed by the Greens with 22.0 percent (-0.3). The CDU improved to 17.2 percent (+1.3), the Left practically maintained its result from the 2021 election at 11.5 percent (+0.1). The AfD climbs to 9.4 percent (+1.0) and pushes past the FDP, which falls to 8.1 percent (-0.9).
According to a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court, new elections were held in Berlin in 455 of 2,256 electoral districts – a fifth – because there were many organizational problems and breakdowns during the 2021 election. The numbers published by the state election authority in the evening do not represent the individual results of just the partial repetition, but the new overall result, which also includes the valid part of the election on September 26, 2021.
Less voter turnout
According to the state election authority, 40.2 percent of eligible voters cast their votes by 4 p.m. – two hours before the polling stations closed. In 2021 it was 57 percent in the electoral districts in question at the same time. In all Berlin electoral districts combined – including those that did not vote again – voter turnout in the federal election was 75.2 percent.
According to the state election authorities, the voting process on Sunday went largely smoothly despite continuous rain. “From an organizational point of view, the election went well,” said state returning officer Stephan Bröchler in the RBB. However, there were some “mistakes” that are common for an election of this magnitude. There were delays in at least two cases. In a polling station in the Pankow district, a key was missing for a locked room with the voting documents that were then delivered by the district.
Start of an important election year
The election marks the start of an important election year in Germany: the European elections take place on June 9th, followed by state elections in Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg in September. Even before the repeat election in Berlin, it was clear that this would not change the majority in the Bundestag or the majority of the traffic light coalition – the proportion of those entitled to repeat voting out of all eligible voters nationwide is only 0.9 percent.
However, small changes were possible. Some MPs were able to lose their seats in the Bundestag, others were able to move into parliament – but reliable results were not expected until Monday night. So far, Berlin has provided 29 of the 736 members of the Bundestag.
Breakdown election 2021
On September 26, 2021, in addition to the election for the Bundestag, the elections for the Berlin House of Representatives, the district council assemblies and a referendum took place in the capital. A lot went wrong back then: long queues in front of polling stations, missing or incorrect ballot papers, a temporary interruption in voting in some places – the list of problems was long. Some voters cast their votes well after 6 p.m., when forecasts and projections had already been published.
That is why the two botched elections at the state and district level were completely repeated on February 12, 2023 by order of the Berlin Constitutional Court. Organizationally, everything went largely smoothly at the time; the political consequence was a change of government from red-green-red to black-red. The Karlsruhe judges, in turn, only partially declared the federal election invalid in a ruling from December 2023. Nevertheless, it was the first repeat election in history ordered by the Federal Constitutional Court.
The partial repetition had some peculiarities. The parties were not allowed to put forward any new candidates; the ballot paper had to look like it did in 2021. This led, for example, to the former AfD member of the Bundestag Birgit Malsack-Winkemann formally running again, who had not made it into the Bundestag in 2021. She was arrested in a large-scale raid in December 2022 and is in custody. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office accuses her of membership and support of a (right-wing) terrorist organization.
Voting took place in all twelve Berlin federal parliamentary constituencies, although to very different degrees. In Pankow, 85 percent of the polling districts were affected, in Lichtenberg only 2.9 percent.