Berlin will vote again on February 12 – the most important facts at a glance

Federal Constitutional Court

The judges in Karlsruhe will decide today on an urgent application for a repeat election in Berlin.

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin The Federal Constitutional Court has rejected an urgent application against the repeat election in Berlin. This means that the elections on February 12 can take place as planned.

However, a decision on the constitutional complaint in the main proceedings is still pending. It should only fall after the election date. The urgent application was rejected without justification, which the applicants and the public will only receive later.

Berlin’s state returning officer Stephan Bröchler reacted with relief to the decision of the constitutional court. “We’re taking a deep breath now because the decision gives us planning security,” Bröchler told the German Press Agency on Tuesday.

The decision in Karlsruhe did not surprise him, said Bröchler. “Anything else would have been a very significant intervention in an election that was already underway.”

He reminded that postal voting had been going on for a few weeks and that many people had already voted.

Why does the election to the Berlin House of Representatives have to be repeated?

The constitutional court of the state of Berlin has subsequently declared the election of September 26, 2021 to be invalid. The reason for this was a large number of irregularities in the election process: missing voting documents, mixed-up ballot papers, queues that were too long.

Some polling stations had to close temporarily because the ballot papers ran out. In many places, those waiting were allowed to cast their votes until well after 6 p.m. – while the first forecasts had long since been published. According to the Constitutional Court, at least 20,000 to 30,000 votes were affected by voting errors. Shortly after the election, the Federal Returning Officer raised an objection to the results.

September 26, 2021 was a super election day: In Berlin, elections were held at federal, state and district level.

So are the federal elections, the elections to the district assemblies and the referendum “expropriate German housing & Co” also affected by the verdict?

The Karlsruhe decision has nothing to do with the federal elections, which also caused problems in Berlin. Here the election test is regulated differently. The Bundestag responsible for this had decided on November 10 with the votes of the traffic light parliamentary groups SPD, Greens and FDP that the election in Berlin will only be partially repeated – namely where there have been proven incidents.

The Federal Constitutional Court deals with this in a separate procedure as a formal complaints authority. The parliamentary groups of the CDU/CSU and AfD, who are striving for a more extensive or complete repetition, have lodged election scrutiny complaints. A date for the repeat election will only be determined here once the review in Karlsruhe has been completed.

The elections for the twelve Berlin district assemblies will also be repeated on February 12. On the other hand, the referendum “Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co” remains valid: the majority of Berliners voted for the socialization of private housing companies – so far, however, without any political consequences.

Why is the Federal Constitutional Court dealing with the case now, a few days before the scheduled repeat election?

Today’s decision of the Federal Constitutional Court concerns an urgent application against the repeat election. With this, the more than 40 plaintiffs wanted to ensure that the election should not take place until a decision was made in the main proceedings.

The judges carried out a so-called impact assessment in the urgent procedure. They considered what would have the worse consequences: if they grant the urgent application now and the constitutional complaint is later unsuccessful – or if they let things run their course and the constitutional complaint later turns out to be justified.

Does that mean that the repeat election can be declared invalid again afterwards?

Should the Karlsruhe judges decide in the main proceedings that the state constitutional court unlawfully declared the original election invalid, the result of the repeat election could also become obsolete. However, such a decision is considered unlikely.

What consequences could a cancellation of the repeat election on February 12th have had?

Above all, election experts criticize that the judgments and procedures surrounding the Berlin elections are causing uncertainty among the population. At the current time, the impression could arise that voting is not worthwhile, since the main judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court on the legality of the elections on February 12 is still pending.

Postponing the election is not ideal either, state returning officer Stephan Bröchler told Zeit Online: “What would we do with the votes already cast?”

Repeat elections in Berlin

How is the voter mood in Berlin?

Current polls for the House of Representatives election see the CDU in the lead with around 23 percent of the votes, closely followed by the Greens with around 20 percent and the SPD with around 19 percent. The Social Democrats currently have Franziska Giffey as Berlin’s Governing Mayor. Your party could suffer significant losses compared to the original September election.

Experts also expect a lower voter turnout. In 2021, 75.4 percent of those eligible to vote in Berlin went to the polls. This relatively high rate could have something to do with the merging of the various elections and votes. But the federal election and the referendum will not be repeated on February 12 – a lower turnout is conceivable.

Which possible coalitions in the Berlin House of Representatives are emerging?

The top candidate of the Greens, Bettina Jarasch, recently named the current alliance of Greens, SPD and Left as her preferred coalition. According to reports, Jarasch excludes cooperation with the CDU and its top candidate Kai Wegner.

When will the next regular elections take place in Berlin?

The European Parliament is expected to be elected in all federal states in spring 2024.

With agency material.

More: Election before the repetition – how realistic is black and green for Berlin?

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