Kassel's acting head of town hall, Christian Geselle, will not stand in the run-off election for the mayor's office, even though he received the most votes in Sunday's election. After internal party disputes, the SPD politician ran as an independent candidate and received 31.5 percent of the votes. The 47-year-old was followed by 50-year-old Sven Schoeller (Greens) with 27.8 percent. Schoeller will now stand alone in the runoff on March 26th.
Geselle said he made the decision to withdraw based on the past few months and weeks, which have not been easy for him and his family. "There were a few incidents and defamation that affected my family a lot, right down to nightly actions on our doorstep," explained the head of the town hall. "I hope that the political culture in this city doesn't suffer long-term damage."
Among other things, Geselle was referring to an anonymous letter in which he was accused of deficits in personnel management a few weeks ago. He had filed criminal charges against the unknown authors and initiated disciplinary proceedings against himself.
"I've always been a friend of clear words," Geselle said on Sunday evening. He will remain true to this line on election night. In the 2017 election, he received 57 percent of the votes. "Now it's 31 percent. I'm very grateful for that." 18,500 voters are a clear agreement. "Nevertheless, I'm not blind, of course," said Geselle. In comparison, it is 26 percentage points less. "That is also a clear word." That's perfectly fine in a democracy, but he decided not to go to the runoff. For this he received both applause and boos.
Because none of the six candidates received the required absolute majority in the first ballot, there is a runoff. At the end of March, the more than 145,000 citizens entitled to vote can only vote yes or no. In order for Schoeller to become the new mayor, he must get at least 50 percent approval in the second ballot, explained Election Officer Anja Morell. Otherwise there would be a new election - then again with several candidates.
The two Hessian state chairmen of the Greens, Sigrid Erfurth and Sebastian Schaub, said: "We congratulate our Green mayoral candidate Sven Schoeller and the Kassel Greens on their historic result and thank you for an excellent election campaign." The result is also a clear tailwind for the mayor election campaign in Darmstadt. "Our goal is clear: green town halls in spring and a green state chancellery in autumn," said the state chairmen.
The SPD politician Geselle fell out with his party after the red-green coalition burst in Kassel's town hall last June. The Social Democrats had initially started coalition talks with the CDU, but later decided by a majority to break them off against the will of the mayor. Geselle then announced in an open letter that he would no longer run as an SPD candidate in the mayoral election, but as an independent candidate.