Democracy: Preliminary decision falls after Berlin breakdown election

Long queues and waiting times in front of the polling stations, incorrect or missing ballot papers, temporary closures of polling stations and in some places voting until well after 6 p.

Democracy: Preliminary decision falls after Berlin breakdown election

Long queues and waiting times in front of the polling stations, incorrect or missing ballot papers, temporary closures of polling stations and in some places voting until well after 6 p.m. - the election Sunday on September 26, 2021 was a chaotic event in the capital Berlin and anything but a celebration of democracy.

The fact that the Bundestag, the state parliament and the local councils were re-elected at the same time and that a referendum was also being voted on was beyond the administration's control. Federal Returning Officer Georg Thiel later saw a "complete systematic failure of the election organization".

Since then there have been discussions in Berlin and beyond as to whether, to what extent and which of the elections must be repeated. A preliminary decision for the federal election will be made this Thursday when the election examination committee of the German Bundestag meets. The three traffic light parties SPD, Greens and FDP will probably push through what they jointly decided the day before: Because of the numerous mishaps, the election should be repeated in 431 of the capital's 2256 electoral districts - with a first and second vote.

CDU politician: "It borders on arbitrariness"

This is a U-turn of a U-turn. Because at the beginning of October, Johannes Fechner, an SPD deputy and member of the election examination committee, said that they wanted to decide there that the election would only be repeated in the "electoral districts with electoral errors". "It's about 300 electoral districts. We limit ourselves to the second votes." This was surprising at the time, because in August there had already been a proposal for a repeat in 440 constituencies.

"Here, the legal screws are turned until the politically desired result comes out," commented Patrick Schnieder (CDU), the Union's chairman on the committee, on "Welt" this back and forth. "It borders on arbitrariness." Some people in the Union are already talking about "election manipulation" behind closed doors.

Even if the re-election, according to the will of the traffic light, should be a little larger than announced in the meantime, it is still far from the expectations of the Federal Returning Officer. Thiel, who submitted one of the more than 2,000 objections to the federal elections in Berlin, is calling for completely new elections to be held in six of the capital's twelve constituencies.

Federal Constitutional Court as the last instance

The Union also agrees with this position. "Simply because we were able to identify significant misconduct in half of the constituencies," says CSU MP Daniela Ludwig, who is also chair of the election review committee.

She is already certain: "For the first time, we will have the situation in the Election Review Committee that decisions will not be made by consensus, as was the case in the past decades." Instead, there will be different votes. "But of course the traffic light decides what it thinks is right with a majority."

The traffic light groups will probably do the same in the Bundestag at the beginning of November, when the recommendation of the Election Review Committee will be voted on. However, Ludwig believes it is quite possible that the matter will ultimately end up with the Federal Constitutional Court. "This is the final instance. And I could imagine that there are objectors for whom the Bundestag resolution is not enough."

And if in the end there is actually a partial re-election? What does that mean in practice? Ludwig thinks it could happen that fewer MPs from Berlin will sit in the Bundestag. It could also be that a member of parliament from another federal state has to leave parliament. "But that's pure speculation," says the CSU woman. "We also lack experience. Thank God we lack them."

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