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CDU makes gains in partial rerun of Bundestag election – traffic light loses

Updated at 12 Feb 2024 12:40 am

Gains for the CDU and AfD, losses for the SPD and FDP and only a small drop for the Greens: the federal trend has come through in the partial repeat of the federal election in Berlin.

After counting all constituencies, the SPD remains the strongest party in the capital with 22.2% (-1.2 percentage points), closely followed by the Greens with 22.0% (-0.3). The CDU improved to 17.2 percent (+1.3), as shown on the website of the state election director on Monday night. The AfD climbed to 9.4 percent (+1.0) and overtook the FDP, which fell to 8.1 percent (-0.9). At 11.5%, the Left Party practically maintained its 2021 election result (+0.1).

Following a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court, a new election was held in Berlin in 455 out of 2256 constituencies - one fifth - because there were many organizational problems and glitches in the 2021 election. The figures published by the state election administration in the evening do not represent the individual results of the partial rerun only, but the new overall result, which also includes the valid part of the election on September 26, 2021.

Berlin's CDU state leader and governing mayor Kai Wegner attributed his party's growth to its work in the city. "This is mainly due to the fact that we are doing a good job of governing in Berlin," he said on RBB. The CDU has governed the state together with the SPD since April 2023. Its leader Franziska Giffey pointed out that the SPD is still the strongest force in the overall Berlin result. "And that is good news."

Just under 550,000 Berliners were called to vote, and voter turnout was lower than in 2021. As a result, the electoral administration put the turnout for the entire Berlin Bundestag election at 69.5% (2021: 75.2%). This would be the lowest figure for a federal election in the state of Berlin since 1990.

Kick-off for an important election year

The election marked the start of an important election year in Germany: the European elections are scheduled for June 9, followed by state elections in Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg in September. It was already clear beforehand that this would not change the majority in the Bundestag or the majority of the traffic light coalition - the proportion of those eligible to vote in repeat elections in relation to all eligible voters nationwide is only 0.9%. Smaller shifts had been expected, however.

However, there were no changes in the 12 direct seats in the Bundestag that are up for grabs in the capital: SPD 4, Greens and CDU 3 each and Linke 2. Former head of government Michael Müller (SPD) defended his direct mandate by a particularly narrow margin. SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert, former Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters (CDU) and Green politician Stefan Gelbhaar also managed to do so in particularly exciting constituencies.

Elsewhere, changes were not mathematically possible. The reason: although voting took place in all twelve Berlin parliamentary constituencies, the extent to which this was the case varied greatly. In Pankow, 85 percent of polling districts were affected, in Lichtenberg only 2.9 percent.

"From an organizational point of view, the election went well," said state election director Stephan Bröchler on RBB. However, there were some "mistakes", which are usual for an election of this size. In one polling station in Pankow, for example, a key was missing for a room containing the election documents, which were then delivered by the district.

Election day 2021 was chaotic

On September 26, 2021, elections to the Berlin House of Representatives, district assemblies and a referendum were held in the capital alongside the Bundestag elections. Many things went wrong at the time: long queues outside polling stations, missing or incorrect ballot papers, a temporary interruption of voting in some places. Some voters cast their votes after 6 p.m., when forecasts and projections had already been published.

For this reason, the two botched elections at state and district level were completely repeated on February 12, 2023 by order of the Berlin Constitutional Court. The political consequence was the change of government in the state from red-green-red to black-red.

The judges in Karlsruhe, on the other hand, only declared the Bundestag election partially invalid. Nevertheless, this was the first election rerun ordered by the Federal Constitutional Court in history.

Repetition with some special features

The partial rerun had a few special features. For example, the parties were not allowed to put forward any new candidates and the ballot paper had to look the same as in 2021. For this reason, former AfD member of parliament Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, who did not make it into parliament in 2021 and has been in custody since the end of 2022 on suspicion of membership of and support for a (right-wing) terrorist organization, also formally stood again. She was able to increase her first vote result in the Steglitz-Zehlendorf constituency by 0.2 points to 5.5 percent, according to the election management.

©Keystone/SDA

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