Double tension in Berlin: A good two weeks after the repeat election on February 12 in the capital, two important decisions are now pending.
The state election committee wants to publish the official result this Monday. In the middle or at the end of the week, after lengthy consultations between the parties, it should be clear who will enter into coalition negotiations with whom.
Three possible coalitions
The clear winner of the election, the CDU, wants to forge a two-party coalition with the SPD or the Greens. But the alliance of SPD, Greens and Left, which has been in power since 2016, also has a majority and could continue. For the Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) that would be the only chance to stay in the town hall.
According to the preliminary result, which was announced immediately after the February 12 election, the SPD and the Greens were tied with 18.4 percent each behind the election winner, the CDU (28.2 percent). Only a small lead of initially 105 votes - with a total of 1.5 million valid votes - nourished the hope of the SPD to keep Giffey in the town hall.
Before the official election results were announced, there was speculation as to whether the Greens could still overtake the SPD after checking all the results and partial recounts. That seems to be off the table now: According to the draft for the official final result, which was announced in advance at the weekend through a report by "Bild am Sonntag" and is also available to the RBB and the German Press Agency, the SPD's lead has melted to 53 Voices. But the order, which in turn is important for the question of who can appoint a head of government, will not change.
In the last few days, the provisional election results in all twelve Berlin districts have been checked, discrepancies have been clarified, and some have been recounted. The best-known case took place in Lichtenberg, where 466 ballot letters from postal voters were left behind, but were subsequently counted in the week after the election.
Official election result on Monday
The official election result that has become known is not yet official, as state returning officer Stephan Bröchler emphasized on Sunday. Because the election committee, a nine-member body, has to decide on Monday. And it could also be that in a constituency in Lichtenberg that is particularly tight between two direct candidates from the CDU and the left, the number has to be recounted again.
But if it happens as the leaked draft suggests, and that is considered very likely, it should have an impact on the process of forming a government. Because the dream of the Greens, with their top candidate Bettina Jarasch to be the head of government for the first time, is likely to have finally burst. Both in a coalition with the CDU and with the SPD and the left, they would be the second strongest force.
Giffey, on the other hand, can take a deep breath and could remain head of government in such a coalition, but not in an alliance between the SPD and the CDU. So are the signs pointing to "Keep it up" with red-green-red? Not at all, everything is still possible.
On Monday, the SPD, the Greens and the Left Party will explore for the third time whether there is a basis for coalition negotiations and a joint government. CDU representatives will then speak to the Greens for the third time on Tuesday. After that, from the middle of the week, decisions should be made, Wegner and Giffey announced after the third CDU/SPD exploratory meeting last Friday.
So far, those involved have not allowed themselves to be looked at as the power poker ends. Rather, in the statements after their meeting, they often resorted to phrases that are typical of exploratory talk and have little concrete content. Accordingly, the previous discussions were "open", "serious", "constructive" or "solution-oriented". The parties discovered "intersections", but also admitted "different views" on certain topics.
The Greens could hope for more senator posts in a two-party coalition with the CDU. Such an alliance could be opposed by major differences in transport policy. Giffey, in turn, has many overlaps with the CDU in terms of content. For example, both are united by a rejection of the expropriation of housing groups - the previous coalition partner Left is in favor - as well as parts of the Greens. However, the SPD, which has been in power for decades and recently had its worst result in a parliamentary election, could only appoint the head of town hall in alliance with the Greens and the Left.
Giffey has always emphasized that she does not stick to her office. The decisive factor is what is best for the city - and the SPD. Should the Social Democrats form a coalition with the CDU, the steep political career of the 44-year-old ex-Federal Minister for Family Affairs could be over for the time being. It is considered unlikely that she will still hold an office in a possible coalition in which the SPD is a junior partner. But that cannot be completely ruled out.