Because of numerous mishaps: Berlin has to repeat the federal election

Because of numerous mishaps
Berlin has to repeat the federal election

The 2021 federal election is going chaotically in Berlin. Many voters receive wrong ballot papers or are unable to vote at all. This is not without consequences: the election must be repeated – at least in part. The decision does not go far enough for the opposition.

Due to numerous mishaps, the Bundestag elections of September last year are to be repeated in 431 Berlin electoral districts. This was decided by the Bundestag with the votes of the traffic light groups SPD, Greens and FDP. The Union and the AfD did not go far enough. The two opposition factions wanted a repetition in many more constituencies.

According to the parliamentary decision, 327 of the 2,256 constituencies in the capital and 104 of the 1,507 postal voting districts are affected. The repetition should be done with first and second voice. Elections are to be held again in those constituencies where voting was interrupted in 2021 due to voting errors, where there were significant delays, or where voters were unable to cast a valid vote due to missing or incorrect ballot papers. There is also a reason for a repeat vote if polling stations were still open after 6:30 p.m. It is unclear when the partial repetition of the election will take place.

The parties in the Bundestag assume that the decision will be challenged before the Federal Constitutional Court. When this then decides is open. The effects on the composition of the Bundestag are also unclear.

The federal election on September 26, 2021 was chaotic in many polling stations in Berlin. There were long queues and waiting times, incorrect or missing ballot papers, which is why polling stations had to be temporarily closed. In many places, the polling stations stayed open until well after 6 p.m. to allow those waiting to cast their votes.

criticism from the opposition

The administration was hopelessly overwhelmed because the House of Representatives and the twelve district parliaments were being re-elected at the same time as the Bundestag. There was also a referendum on the expropriation of large housing groups. The Berlin marathon, which was held at the same time, made the work of the election workers more difficult, for example delivering ballot papers because many streets were closed. Federal Returning Officer Georg Thiel later saw a “complete systematic failure of the election organization” in Berlin and lodged an objection to the election. He asked for this to be repeated in full in six of the twelve constituencies. A total of 2,172 objections to the election were received by the Bundestag’s Election Review Committee – more than ever before. Around 1,700 of these related to the election process in Berlin alone.

The fact that the election is only to be repeated in 431 constituencies has met with criticism from parts of the opposition. The union chairman in the election examination committee, Patrick Schnieder, accused the traffic light coalition of limiting itself to a cosmetic correction for fear of losing seats: “You count the fiasco small.” The SPD parliamentary group’s legal adviser, Johannes Fechner, rejected the allegation. They only want to repeat the election where there have actually been electoral errors.

According to “Tagesspiegel” information, the FDP in particular wanted to keep the extent of the repetition low, while the SPD advocated a broad repetition. Accordingly, the FDP apparently fears a loss of mandates, while the SPD would most likely benefit from a better second vote result. The party was only 802 votes short of a 207th seat in the German Bundestag in the 2021 federal election. However, this would require that the second vote results of all other parties remain unchanged. Since a repeat election would only affect around 0.8 percent of all eligible voters in Germany and a lower turnout is expected, effects on the distribution of seats in the Bundestag are rather unlikely.

In the capital, the same day’s parliamentary elections are on the brink. The Berlin Constitutional Court will decide on this next Wednesday. During the oral hearing, it became apparent that the court could order a complete repetition. The state parliament would then have to be re-elected no later than 90 days after the announcement of the decision.

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