Due to electoral setbacks, Berlin will repeat the 2021 federal elections. Turnout is weak and the result will not be known until well after midnight.

Election workers sort ballots during the vote count in the Carl von Ossietzky gymnasium at polling station 317

The federal elections of September 26, 2021 were partially repeated on Sunday in Berlin Photo: Soeren Stache/dpa

SEDAN taz | He doesn't really know what to say, even if he is the star guest of the evening. “Unfortunately we don't have figures yet,” says Berlin CDU leader Kai Weger, the ruling mayor and, so to speak, prime minister of the city-state. “It's something strange,” he adds, shortly after 7:00 p.m., in front of his party colleagues, at an election party in the Pankow district, in the northeast of Berlin. In fact, many things are different than usual when polling stations close on Sunday afternoon at 6 pm for the partial rerun of the 2021 federal election. There are no forecasts, no projections, no screens with bars appearing, and until well after midnight, there is no clarity about who dominated this election day.

According to Wegner, on Tuesday, shortly before Christmas, 54 days ago, the Federal Constitutional Court issued its ruling, which now has the strange consequences described by Wegner. Unlike the state Constitutional Court of the previous year, which completely repeated the elections to the state parliament, the federal judges considered a partial repetition sufficient: only in 455 of the more than 2,200 electoral districts, that is, only in a fifth. The background to the process was the numerous electoral mishaps on September 26, 2021, when not only the Bundestag, but also the regional parliament was elected in Berlin.

It quickly became clear: this would have no impact on the majority of the Bundestag. Changes to electoral districts would probably only be possible in two of the twelve electoral districts; in the others, very few voters would be able to vote in order to change the result in 2021. The two direct mandates from Berlin, which are essential for the political survival of the Left Party in the Bundestag, would also be safe.

What was probably possible and quickly became the focus of federal political efforts to achieve high voter turnout: the fear that the AfD could, even without winning electoral districts, mobilize its supporters to a high degree and increase its share significantly . Especially after the revelations about a far-right meeting in Potsdam, all parties on this side of the AfD asked to send a signal with a high voter turnout.

Lower electoral participation

These calls only have a limited effect until late afternoon. Only about 40 percent of voters had voted by 4 p.m.; In 2021, at the same time it was 57 percent, that is, almost half more.

The first results are coming from the CDU electoral party: there are hopes of being able to take over two electoral districts that in 2021 went to the SPD and the Greens and in which many of the 455 electoral districts will now vote again. In Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, former government mayor Michael Müller led the Social Democrats, and in Pankow, Stefan Gelbhaar of the Green Party. If people voted this Sunday as they did in the latest election polls, the CDU could now be in the lead. But the Greens, whose candidate Lisa Paus enjoys additional fame as Federal Minister for Family Affairs from 2022, also hope to replace Müller.

Curiously, a new victory in the CDU constituency would deprive of her mandate a woman who came to the electoral party with party leader Wegner: the general secretary of the Berlin CDU, Ottilie Klein, who has only been in office for six months. and, at 39 years old, one of the Great Young Hopes, rose in 2021 on the state list of the Bundestag. But this only comes into play if the CDU wins fewer electoral districts than its share in parliament. Unlike Klein, the SPD's Müller would remain in the Bundestag because the SPD's state list would protect him.

Another state political consequence is becoming more and more likely this afternoon, given the low voter turnout: The Berlin Greens will probably lose a seat in the Bundestag due to the lower number of absolute votes in the second ballots. This would affect the party's state president, Nina Stahr, who, like Klein, did not reach the Bundestag until 2021.

The SPD man also hoped for his chances.

The first results received by the CDU party's state election committee show progress for the CDU and AfD. However, the Greens' direct mandate does not appear to be at risk. But the figures are not weighted in any way: it is purely a coincidence whether the first results come from the traditional green strongholds, for example in the modern residential area of ​​Prenzlauer Berg, or from the more rural regions of the district closer to the CDU. . State returning officer Stephan Bröchler did not announce the final result until 01:30 on Monday morning.

In his electoral party, a few kilometers from the CDU, the direct candidate of the SPD, Klaus Mindrup, who failed against the Yellow Greens in 2021, was skeptical about his ability to win the constituency. “I received a lot of support in the election campaign, but is it enough?” he tells taz. It is clear that the policies of the traffic light government and, therefore, also those of the SPD, were for him “less of a tailwind than a headwind.” Therefore: “If it worked today, it would be a sensation. But now I could also try to predict the lottery numbers.”

The atmosphere remains good at the small, reasonably attended “Varia Vineta” theater in a now well-gentrified area of ​​East Berlin's Pankow district. Around 50 Mindrup comrades and supporters attended the SPD's “Election Night Event”. Anyway. At the official end of the election campaign in Berlin on Friday afternoon there were no more seats at the headquarters of the federal SPD party.

The rentier politician Mindrup also brought a “guest musical star” to the night boat: Berlin environmentalist politician Dennis Buchholz, who was sidelined in 2021 after very unpleasant power maneuvers at the top of the capital's SPD, sings, among other things, “Strangers in the Night” by Frank Sinatra. There are some loud, grating comments. But that doesn't bother anyone, there is a lot of applause. It is Buchholz's responsibility to save the waiting time with his entertainment program shortly before 7:00 p.m.

Waiting for new numbers

It is a matter of waiting for some numbers that do not arrive. But we are also waiting for SPD state leader Franziska Giffey, who, like a kind of travel empress, will be driven to Pankow from the event by general secretary Kevin Kühnert, who had to defend his direct mandate in Tempelhof-Schöneberg .

Mindrup says: “Personally, it was the best election campaign I have ever experienced.” And the party's leftist has experienced some. In 2013, as well as in 2017 and 2021, he was initially defeated by the left-wing candidate and, more recently, by the Green Party candidate. Unlike Kühnert or former head of government Müller, Mindrup is not protected by the state list. This winter he campaigned for the first votes with the slogan “New beginning.” “Because I think the traffic light needs it for the issues I'm involved in: tenant and climate protection,” Mindrup says.

While the SPD politician was initially in the lead with around 20 percent due to the strange starting position, even in Pankow, which especially needed a repeat election, the first votes were not canceled at the beginning of the election night, The Greens Yellowhair soon grew closer to Mindrup. When Franziska Giffey arrived late to the small celebration in Pankow during her city tour at around 8:00 p.m. and around 70 percent of the district's almost 260 polling stations were counted, the SPD man was already 9 points ahead. behind Gelbhaar on 26 percent with less than 17 percent, and dangerously close to the third candidate of the far-right AfD party, which at the time had just under 16 percent.

“Here in Pankow I'm about to throw up,” a state politician from the party's left wing told Taz, looking at the AfD bar. “It seems devastating. “That worked,” says Mindrup. “You walk in here and you think the atmosphere is not boiling right now,” Giffey shouts to guests from the theater stage. “The results for the SPD seem good. And that is good news,” the former mayor tries to be a motivator. Next, Giffey brings Klaus Mindrup back on stage. Applause again. “Yeah, that's good too,” the boss says cheerfully into the microphone. The Green candidate is already 10 percentage points ahead of Mindrup.

Large crowd at the Left Party

Some hopeful souls made their way through the rain to the Karl Liebknecht House, the headquarters of the leftist party. “The room is full,” says MP and moderator of the evening Katalin Gennburg, “that's great!” With enough supplies (and especially alcohol), candidates, activists and party members celebrate the “strangest election campaign Berlin has ever seen.”

Although the party has suffered “one or two crises” in recent months, as its Berlin state president Maximilian Schirmer acknowledges, the state association has carried out a “fantastic election campaign.” Party members report on the street election campaign and door-to-door conversations in the more than 6,000 doors raided. They say they were mainly told about challenges such as rising rents, failures in heating systems, lack of classrooms for young people, and lack of accessibility on public transportation.

“With the demands for affordable housing, good healthcare and adequately equipped schools and nurseries, we are putting forward concrete policy issues in this election campaign,” says federal party leader Martin Schirdewan. “Hopefully this has convinced enough people so that we can continue working with our four members of the Bundestag.”

Representative Meiser must be worried

The left has to worry about this today. It is feared that Pascal Meiser, who received the direct mandate for Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg in 2021, will have to hand over his mandate in the Bundestag in Hesse to Christine Buchholz. “We keep our fingers crossed for Pascal,” says co-president Franziska Brychcy.

“I'm stoic, combative and calm,” says Rep. Meiser. They had an “incredibly amazing” election campaign. “No matter how the night turns out, we can take advantage of that. I have faith”. He receives the support of the party. Schirdewan praises him for always being visible and ensuring positive publicity. But even if the left fails to defend its mandate, Brychcy emphasizes: “Pascal, we are proud of you.”