Justice: Berlin Constitutional Court decides on re-election

In Berlin, three elections may have to be repeated - an unprecedented process.

Justice: Berlin Constitutional Court decides on re-election

In Berlin, three elections may have to be repeated - an unprecedented process. A repeat decision has already been made for the Bundestag elections. On Wednesday, the country's constitutional court will decide on the validity of the elections to the House of Representatives and the district assemblies. Questions

What happened?

On September 26, 2021, the Bundestag, the House of Representatives and the twelve district parliaments were re-elected in Berlin during the corona pandemic. There was also a referendum on the expropriation of large housing groups. The Berlin marathon also ran alongside.

The consequences of this concentration and poor preparation were breakdowns and massive organizational problems. These included wrong, missing or hastily copied ballot papers, too few ballot boxes, long queues with waiting times that sometimes lasted for hours. In many cases, voters voted after 6 p.m., sometimes even hours after the official closing time.

Now who decides what?

After several objections, the state’s constitutional court decides on the validity of the election to the House of Representatives and the related elections to the district assemblies. The verdict will be announced on Wednesday.

Does the election to the House of Representatives have to be repeated in its entirety?

That is to be expected. Because in an oral hearing on September 28, the court had very clearly considered a complete repetition. According to Court President Ludgera Selting, there were many serious electoral errors in the preparation and conduct of the election. These were relevant to the mandate - according to the court's preliminary assessment, they had an impact on the composition of Parliament and the distribution of mandates.

When would the election be repeated?

After the verdict, the re-election must take place within 90 days. State Returning Officer Stephan Bröchler sets the date and has already made it clear that it should end on February 12, 2023, the last Sunday within the deadline.

And what about the general election?

According to a resolution passed by the Bundestag on November 10th, based on a recommendation by its Election Review Committee, this must be partially repeated. Specifically, it is about 327 of 2256 electoral districts and 104 of 1507 associated postal voting districts.

The polling districts in question are in all twelve of Berlin's Bundestag constituencies, and voters should be able to cast their first and second votes there again. However, it is expected that this will not be the last word and that the Federal Constitutional Court will decide in the end. Because those who have lodged an objection to the federal elections could now call Karlsruhe.

Could all redials take place on one date?

That depends on whether the Federal Constitutional Court comes into play in the question of a repeat of the federal election. If so, it may take some time to make such an important decision. In that case, only the Berlin House of Representatives and the district parliaments would initially be re-elected in February, followed by the Bundestag at a later date.

Will the legislative period in Berlin begin again with a repeat election?

No, it will continue to end five years after the September 2021 election, i.e. in autumn 2026. Because this is not a new election, but a repeat election in which the same candidates stand as direct candidates and on the state or district lists of the parties 2021

Will MPs and Senate remain in office until the repetition?

Yes. During the oral hearing, the Constitutional Court declared that all legal acts passed by the House of Representatives prior to the verdict remain in effect. This is entitled to carry out its tasks until the conclusion of a repeat election to ensure the continuity of state action. That should also apply to the Senate.

What will change after the election?

First of all, the majority in Parliament. This can result in another coalition being formed, in which the previous opposition party, the CDU, has a say. If the previous coalition partners SPD, Greens and Left Party together continue to have a majority, they could - if they wanted to - continue.

But it should be interesting to see what happens when the Greens become the strongest party instead of the SPD. According to the latest surveys, this is not unrealistic. Then the Greens would be entitled to the town hall chair. Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) would have to make room for her previous deputy, Environment and Mobility Senator Bettina Jarasch (Greens).

What has been done to better organize the elections?

With the administrative scientist Bröchler, Berlin has had a new state returning officer since October 1st. In order to ensure a "smooth" process, as he put it, more booths should be available in each polling station. Instead of 34,000 election workers, at least 38,000 should be deployed.

Your compensation, the "refreshment money", was increased from 60 to up to 240 euros. Better training is also planned. Paper and ballots are to be ordered to a greater extent than in 2021.

How much does it cost?

39 million euros have been budgeted for the repeat elections in Berlin at federal, state and district level. That is three times the amount as in 2021.