Dhe partial repetition of the federal election in Berlin will lead to a reduction in the size of parliament by one seat, which was previously held by the FDP. The Bundestag will now have 735 members, including only 91 from the FDP, as the Federal Returning Officer announced on Monday night. For the other parties, the bottom line is that the number of seats remains unchanged.
After counting all electoral districts, the SPD remains the strongest party in the capital with 22.2 percent (-1.2 percentage points), closely followed by the Greens with 22.0 percent (-0.3). The CDU improved to 17.2 percent (+1.3), as could be seen on the state returning officer's website on Monday night. The AfD climbs to 9.4 percent (+1.0) and pushes past the FDP, which falls to 8.1 percent (-0.9). At 11.5 percent, the Left practically maintained its result from the 2021 election (+0.1).
According to a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court, new elections were held in a fifth of the 2,256 electoral districts in Berlin because there were many organizational problems and breakdowns during the 2021 election. Almost 550,000 Berliners were called to vote.
Voter turnout is falling
SPD state chairwoman Franziska Giffey drew a positive interim conclusion from the vote count. “If we look at the results so far, the SPD is still the strongest force. And that’s good news,” said Giffey on Sunday evening in an RBB special broadcast about the repeat election. It must be clearly understood that there are parts of the city where the AfD has made gains. “This is certainly also based on criticism of the federal government,” said the SPD politician. “But I think our task as a social democracy is to stand up to this and make it very clear: we stand for a democratic society, we stand against right-wing agitation.”
SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert defended his direct mandate in the Bundestag. According to the state election authorities on Sunday, Kühnert lost slightly in the first votes compared to the first attempt in 2021, but ended up in first place in the Tempelhof-Schöneberg constituency in the overall result with 26.7 percent. The overall result is made up of the votes cast on Sunday and those still valid in the original election on September 26, 2021.
According to the state election authority, turnout for the entire Berlin federal election was 69.5 percent (2021: 75.2 percent). This is the lowest value for a federal election in the state of Berlin since 1990.
According to the state election authorities, the voting process on Sunday went largely smoothly despite continuous rain. “From an organizational point of view, the election went well,” said state returning officer Stephan Bröchler on Sunday on RBB. However, there were some “mistakes” that are common for an election of this magnitude. There were delays in at least two cases. In a polling station in the Pankow district, a key was missing for a locked room with the voting documents that were then delivered by the district.
The election marks the start of an important election year in Germany: the European elections take place on June 9th, followed by state elections in Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg in September. Even before the repeat election in Berlin, it was clear that this would not change the majority in the Bundestag or the majority of the traffic light coalition – the proportion of those entitled to repeat voting out of all eligible voters nationwide is only 0.9 percent.
On September 26, 2021, in addition to the election for the Bundestag, the elections for the Berlin House of Representatives, the district council assemblies and a referendum took place in the capital. A lot went wrong back then: long queues in front of polling stations, missing or incorrect ballot papers, a temporary interruption in voting in some places – the list of problems was long. Some voters cast their votes well after 6 p.m., when forecasts and projections had already been published.
For this reason, the two botched elections at the state and district level were completely repeated on February 12, 2023 by order of the Berlin Constitutional Court. Organizationally, everything went largely smoothly at the time; the political consequence was a change of government from red-green-red to black-red.
The Karlsruhe judges, in turn, only partially declared the federal election invalid in a ruling from December 2023. Nevertheless, it was the first repeat election in history ordered by the Federal Constitutional Court.
The partial repetition had some peculiarities. The parties were not allowed to put forward any new candidates; the ballot paper had to look like it did in 2021. This led, for example, to the former AfD member of the Bundestag Birgit Malsack-Winkemann formally running again, who had not made it into the Bundestag in 2021. She was arrested in a large-scale raid in December 2022 and is in custody. The Federal Prosecutor's Office accuses her of membership and support of a (right-wing) terrorist organization.
Voting took place in all twelve Berlin federal parliamentary constituencies, although to very different degrees. In Pankow, 85 percent of the polling districts were affected, in Lichtenberg only 2.9 percent.