Mayor Franziska Giffey casting her vote in the 2023 local election, Source: Franziska Giffey on Facebook

Berlin’s local election re-do: Big win for the CDU, possibly no change in government

Berlin’s local election re-do: Big win for the CDU, possibly no change in government

The governing coalition in Berlin still has a stable majority to continue its policy agenda until 2026

Yesterday, Berliners went to the polls and voted on the repeat of the local election, originally held in September 2021. The re-do was ordered by the constitutional court because there were too many errors reported during the initial run.

With the results in, Berlin is about to experience a shakeup in the city’s senators and the possible new ruling coalition, as the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) were by far the biggest winner.

At the same time, there seems to be no clear winner of the election, as no party has a clear majority, and many actors in the local council would have to find ways to compromise. Although the results were not a massive surprise, considering that in 2021, voters were even more divided.

Election chartThe 2021 and 2023 election results in Berlin 

Key issues that swung the elections

According to Berlin authorities, the CDU had a majority in most of the districts in the city. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story as most districts outside of the so-called U-Bahn ring – a metro system going around the city’s central parts.

Inside the ring, most districts logged a Greens majority and this particular division highlights one of Berlin’s key issues – transportation. Since the current local government is made up of the Social Democrats, Greens and The Left (Die Linke), local politics has been focusing more and more on decreasing fossil fuel mobility and cars in favour of more sustainable solutions.

This includes public transport bikes and the like, as well as a proposition to make the whole of the inner U-Bahn ring car-free.

However, as the rbb reports, for residents of the outer ring, these propositions seem irrelevant and dysfunctional, as traffic jams and poor unreliable public transport are the norms.

At the same time, according to a survey from Infratest dimap, many voters are concerned with the lack of ‘law and order’ in the city. A big contributor to that swing is New Year’s eve riots, which rocked the German capital. Voters seem to perceive the CDU as the party that can deliver on these issues, as well as improve the economic performance of the city.

On the other side of the political spectrum, most voters for the Social Democrats (SPD) seem to care for issues related to housing, which goes double for supporters of The Left (Die Linke). At the same time, many Berliners also seem to blame the SPD for the capital’s housing woes, seeing as how they have held the mayor’s position since 2001.

Despite a lack of confidence in the SPD, incumbent Mayor Franziska Giffey seems to be the most popular party representative in the race. Moreover, as she put it since the current city coalition took office in 2021, there has been constant external pressure – the latter years of the pandemic, a refugee crisis spurred on by Belarus and the current cost of living and energy crisis courtesy of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

What could change in the local council

Importantly, the fact that the CDU won the election with 28.2%, does not mean that they get dibs on trying to form a coalition. This is because the election is just for the house of representatives and will continue the current legislative period until the end of 2026.

Moreover, if there is to be a change in Mayor and Senators, the council of representatives needs to pass a vote of no confidence and then form a vote on a new mayor. Considering the balance of power, that does not seem too likely. This is because the SPD won 18.4%, Greens 18.4% and The Left – 12.2% - which is a stable majority, enough to continue the current red-green-red ruling coalition.

Furthermore, the Greens, which are the CDU’s most likely partner in a coalition have a chance to take a bigger lead if they continue their current arrangement. In the last elections, the SPD had a narrow 3% lead over the Greens, forcing them into a junior position in the coalition. Now, with both parties having the same number of seats, they can have a bigger say in the policy trajectory, maybe even renegotiate a more equitable arrangement with the SPD.

Ultimately, however, the election round has not delivered a massive upset for the local government and there might be only small changes in senatorial positions, with the majority of Berliners split between centre-left candidates.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU