Detail from the Brandenburg Gate, Source: Tim Hufner / Unsplash

Election re-run just around the corner in Berlin

Election re-run just around the corner in Berlin

After the Berlin Constitutional Court declared the September 2021 local election invalid, the city is getting ready for a re-do

Next Sunday, Berlin is gearing up to redo the state elections as per the decision of the local Constitutional Court. The elections in Berlin, held on 26 September 2021, coincided with the German national election, as well as with a polarising referendum about expropriating large property owners.

For additional chaos, the election also synched up with the Berlin Marathon. All this led to many validation errors and the wrong ballots being set to the wrong polling stations, eventually leading to the Constitutional Court mandating the election be redone.

What is about to change?

The decision applies only to the state election, meaning that after 12 February, Berlin would have a new council of representatives. Importantly, this does not necessarily mean that there will be a new mayor or senators.

This is because the new elections will still be part of the current legislative period, scheduled to end in 2026 with the next regional elections. Thus, mayors and senators, as well as their positions, would not necessarily be up for grabs in the election.

However, with the new regional representatives, the city’s ruling coalition could definitely change. Currently, Berlin is ruled by the so-called Red-Green-Red coalition between the SPD, Greens and Die Linke. A new ruling coalition, though, does not necessarily need to change the mayor and senators. But it could.

This can happen in two ways – the current mayor Franziska Giffey could resign, triggering the resignation of all senators, because technically they are appointed by her and she is appointed by the House of Representatives. The other option is a vote of no confidence, which would see a new mayor with a new team of senators.   

What will remain the same?

Interestingly, the referendum to expropriate large landlords will not be redone, as, according to the court, there have not been any complaints about it. The referendum started as a grassroots movement to expropriate properties of landlords with portfolios exceeding 3,000 properties.

The movement is called Deutsche Wohnen & Co. Enteignen (Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen and Co.) and targets Berlin’s largest landlord, the company Deutsche Wohnen, with a portfolio of around 150,000 properties in Germany, including flats and retail space. 71% of that is in Berlin.

Remarkably, the referendum was approved by the public, forcing Berlin’s local authorities into a difficult position with a decision that has the potential to alienate parts of the private sector. Furthermore, Mayor Giffey has repeatedly stated that she is against implementing the results of the referendum.

This point proved to be a shaky start for the Red-Green-Red coalition because many Die Linke representatives were staunchly in favour of finding ways to implement the results.



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