Due to numerous mishaps, the federal elections of September last year in Berlin are to be repeated in 431 electoral districts. A corresponding recommendation to the Bundestag was decided by its election examination committee with the votes of the traffic light representatives of the SPD, Greens and FDP, as the chairwoman Daniela Ludwig (CSU) announced on Monday.
Accordingly, 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. The CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag wished for a much more far-reaching re-election.
The Bundestag still has to decide on the committee recommendation, which it will probably do as early as this Thursday. It is considered certain that he will agree to the recommendation. However, according to the opinion of the parliamentary groups, this decision is likely to be challenged before the Federal Constitutional Court, so that it is not clear when the partial repeat of the election will take place. "The wish is of course that the citizens get clarity very quickly about when and, above all, to what extent the federal elections will be repeated in Berlin," said Ludwig.
Effects are unclear
The effects on the composition of the Bundestag are also unclear. If the turnout for the partial repetition is low, this could result in fewer MPs from Berlin being represented in the Bundestag.
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 vote.
Federal Returning Officer: Complete systematic failure
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.
"We say we only want to vote again where the voting errors actually took place, where we can prove that ballot papers were missing, that there were long queues," said SPD MP Johannes Fechner. At the same time, he pointed out that the 431 constituencies in which new elections are to be held extend to all twelve constituencies in the state of Berlin. This goes beyond the proposal of the Federal Returning Officer.
Fechner emphasized that the decision was made "without squinting at polls or considering which party the new election could be useful for". On the other hand, the chairman of the Union faction in the committee, Patrick Schnieder (CDU), described it as "completely inappropriate how this process has been politicized". The traffic light factions would have moved the legal cogs in such a way that the result would fit politically. "Namely, that in the end almost nothing can happen in these new elections."
Union: "Can be described as cosmetic"
The Union wanted elections to be held in a total of around 1,200 and not just 431 constituencies. The decision taken by the traffic light factions is absolutely not sufficient, said Schnieder. "That can perhaps be described as a homeopathic dose, perhaps only as a cosmetic."
The election is now to be repeated in constituencies where it 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.