On February 12, 2023, the parliamentary elections will be repeated in Berlin. The Federal Constitutional Court declared the original election of September 26, 2022 invalid. The re-election is said to cost taxpayers 40 million euros. All the latest news about redialing in the Newsticker.
Monday, January 30, 12:01 a.m .: CDU and Left have criticized Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s (SPD) statements on the debate about expropriations of large housing companies in Berlin. Scholz’s criticism was “nothing but hypocritical,” said CDU General Secretary Mario Czaja to the “Tagesspiegel” (Monday). Berlin’s governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) used similar rhetoric in the last election campaign and then quickly forgot her “empty promises” in the coalition. “The Berlin SPD is conservative in the election campaign, but when in doubt it always stands firmly on the side of the far left.”
Scholz had sided with Giffey in the debate and at the same time got involved in the capital’s election campaign. “Expropriations do not create new apartments,” Scholz told the “Tagesspiegel” (online Saturday) to the coalition partner Greens and Left in Berlin. They want to implement the nationalization of real estate of large corporations, as demanded by a referendum.
The expropriation of large housing companies is one of the most controversial issues in the election campaign for the re-election on February 12. Since April, a commission of experts set up by the Senate has been discussing whether and, if so, how the matter can be implemented.
The head of the left parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Dietmar Bartsch, also told the Tagesspiegel that Scholz had a strange understanding of how to deal with a referendum. “It would make more sense to keep your campaign promises to build 400,000 apartments a year. That’s where the traffic light fails,” he said, referring to the red-green-yellow federal government.
Wednesday, January 25, 11:27 a.m .: For the Berlin repeat election on February 12, voters can now get decision-making aids from the new Wahl-O-Mat. The well-known website was activated on Wednesday. After the approval or rejection of 38 demands, the Wahl-O-Mat should show which party and which program one is close to in terms of content. Before the last two Berlin elections, the Wahl-O-Mat was used around a million times, according to the Senate.
There are demands for climate neutrality in Berlin, for homeless camps, e-scooters, New Year’s Eve fireworks, grades in elementary school, refugees, bicycle and car traffic, the closure of Friedrichstrasse, daycare centers, police checks, headscarves and Berlin’s debt. At the start on Wednesday, top politicians from the six parties represented in the House of Representatives wanted to test the Wahl-O-Mat.
A total of 31 parties are represented with their demands. Some were newly developed for the repeat election of the Berlin House of Representatives, others come from the 2021 election. The Wahl-O-Mat is offered by the Federal Agency and the State Agency for Civic Education. It has been used in federal and state elections since 2002.
Tuesday, January 24, 11:10 a.m.: After a visit to Berlin, OSCE experts are opposed to sending observers to the repeat elections on February 12. This emerges from a report by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in Europe. “Based on the results of this report, ODIHR does not recommend sending an election observer for these elections,” the report published in Warsaw on Monday evening reads.
The House of Representatives elections and the elections to the District Councils of September 2021 have to be repeated due to major glitches. State Returning Officer Stephan Bröchler had invited international observers from the OSCE. In mid-January, they first sent an advance team to check whether election observation would make sense. They spoke to representatives of the Senate, the electoral authorities, the House of Representatives, all parties and civil society organizations. On this basis, the team now opposes the observation, but advises the implementation of previous ODIHR recommendations.
The reason given in the report is that the interlocutors in Berlin are open to observing the repeat election. But almost everyone is of the opinion that the ODIHR observation formats that are possible for this election would not be necessary or useful. The team noted great confidence in the ability of the Berlin electoral authorities to organize the repeat election.
The OSCE experts maintain the generally high standards for elections in Germany, including the correct preparation of voter and candidate lists, rules for party and election campaign financing, and media diversity. According to the report, all of the interlocutors “see the context of the election campaign as open and free”.
With regard to the Berlin elections, it says: “Despite the procedural errors that led to the repetition of these elections, all interlocutors of the ODIHR team expressed confidence in the independence of the electoral authorities and in their ability to manage the upcoming elections, including postal votes.” The report also notes the Interior Senate’s commission of inquiry into the 2021 election mishaps and the consequences drawn from them.
Minor glitches had also become public in the past few days in the preparations for the repeat election. Returning officer Bröchler said that with almost 2.5 million voters and documents, minor errors cannot be completely avoided. It is crucial that they are corrected quickly.
Monday, January 23, 6:19 a.m .: Berlin’s governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) rejects a sharp reduction in parking spaces in the capital and thus contradicts the coalition partner. “If the Greens take away half of the parking spaces from people, that doesn’t automatically lead to less traffic,” Giffey said in an interview with the “Berliner Morgenpost” (Sunday) three weeks before the repeat election on February 12. The different interests of all road users must be taken into account. Parking spaces and delivery zones will also be needed in the city center in the future. “Radical announcements that exclude certain road users exacerbate the situation in the city,” said the SPD’s top candidate.
The Greens have long been calling for parking spaces and traffic-calmed zones to be eliminated in favor of playgrounds and sports fields as well as pedestrians and cyclists. Mobility Senator and top candidate Bettina Jarasch recently emphasized again that the number of public parking spaces in Berlin must be significantly reduced. Your party is planning a halving in the next decade.
“Space to live instead of a parking lot” is what the Greens’ election program says, which was passed unanimously at a party conference on Saturday. The approximately 130-page paper is based on the program for the 2021 election, but was revised and supplemented in some points for the repeat election.
Before the repeat election, top candidate Jarasch asked the climate movement for support at the state delegates’ conference on Saturday. “We have a chance to lead the next government. This is also an opportunity for Berlin and for climate protection,” said the politician. “That’s why I’m asking the climate movement to support this opportunity for Berlin.”
On February 12, it will be about whether the CDU will govern in the future, who want a new motorway through the city or who will ask for the suspects’ first names after the New Year’s Eve riots – or the Greens, who want a climate-neutral and socially just city. She understands the frustration of the activists from Berlin, who recently protested against coal mining in Lützerath in North Rhine-Westphalia, says Jarasch.
“What was agreed there is not a great success.” It is a laboriously negotiated compromise that “cannot make us satisfied”. But the truth also includes: “Without the Greens, even this painful compromise would not exist.”
After the large-scale police operation in Lützerath against climate activists who wanted to prevent lignite mining, there was criticism of the Greens. The Green North Rhine-Westphalia Economics and Climate Protection Minister, Mona Neubaur, defended the decision to demolish Lützerath by saying that the phase-out of coal had been brought forward eight years to 2030 and five other villages in the Rhenish lignite mining area would be saved from destruction.
Climate protection, including an energy and heating transition, is one of the priorities of the Greens election program in Berlin. The party wants to invest billions in converting the heat supply from coal and gas to renewable energies, geothermal energy or waste water and in energy-efficient building renovation. They are also striving for an administrative reform with a clearer division of tasks between the state and district levels.
Another goal is a change in mobility. Among other things, Jarasch formulated the goal of reducing the number of cars and creating more traffic-calmed zones. Her vision is that in ten years time only zero-emission cars will be driving within the S-Bahn ring, 30 km/h will be the “regular speed” in the city and there will be twice as many speed controls as there are today.
Together with Brandenburg, Deutsche Bahn and the Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg (VBB), the Greens want to expand local public transport in the capital region. Up to 180 kilometers of railway line are to be reactivated, expanded or newly created.
Prime Minister Giffey also believes that a good range of local public transport is essential for a mobility revolution. “In the city center we already have a sufficiently developed public transport network. But that’s not the case on the outskirts,” Giffey said. According to her, commuters come to the city by car because they are not well connected. “Berlin has to grow in density and height, but also in width. And that is only possible with line extensions to the outskirts.”
Because many problems and errors arose in the 2021 election to the House of Representatives, the Berlin Constitutional Court ordered a complete repetition, which will take place on February 12. The Greens want to continue the coalition with the SPD and the left afterwards – but they hope that this will happen under their leadership with Jarasch in the town hall. In recent polls, however, the CDU was ahead. Red-Green-Red would still have a majority of the seats in the House of Representatives.
9:50 a.m .: Berlin’s state returning officer Stephan Bröchler considers cyber attacks on the repeat election on February 12 to be possible. “We have to take that into account, and that’s what we’re doing,” said Bröchler of the “taz” (Saturday). “There are warring countries that may have an interest in sabotaging the technical infrastructure, that want to show: Look, everything is collapsing in Berlin,” said Bröchler in a “taz” interview.
Because many problems and errors arose in the elections to the House of Representatives and the twelve district parliaments in September 2021, the Berlin Constitutional Court ordered a complete repetition. Bröchler is responsible for organizing them. The state returning officer wants to deal openly with possible mishaps or errors in the preparation or conduct of the election, as he emphasized in the interview. “We don’t want to sweep anything under the rug.”
The 60-year-old announced that he would only cast his vote on February 12th. He assumes that the election will be successful. “And going to the polling station on election Sunday is just something special.”
However, there is great interest in postal voting in the capital: By the end of this week, around three weeks before election day, 512,998 postal voting cards had been issued. The number corresponds to 18.7 percent of those entitled to vote. In 2021 it was 18.5 percent at the same time. The state returning officer publishes these figures on an ongoing basis. In total, around 983,000 people in Berlin requested postal voting documents in 2021, which was around 35 percent of the almost 2.5 million eligible voters.
Friday, January 20, 7:09 a.m .: Berlin hasn’t seen this yet: The House of Representatives election will be completely repeated because the State Constitutional Court declared the vote in autumn 2021 invalid due to many glitches and “serious systemic errors”. But the election campaign also has its peculiarities. You can read more about the election campaign topics here.
12.06 p.m .: According to its own statements, the state of Berlin has sent all election notifications for the upcoming repeat elections. The state-owned IT service center Berlin (ITDZ) announced on Thursday that the notifications were printed and dispatched before January 18th.
The approximately 2.8 million election notifications were processed within ten days in the state’s own printing center. According to the legal deadline, the letters must reach those entitled to vote by January 22 at the latest, said a spokeswoman for the state election authority on Thursday.
You can read more about the election in Berlin on the next page.
On February 12, eligible voters in Berlin can vote. You need certain documents for the polling station. We explain what you need to bring with you to the election.
Elections to the House of Representatives are held in Berlin in February. Would you like to know how you can apply for postal voting and how exactly it works? All information about postal voting can be found online at FOCUS.
A fire broke out on Thursday evening in the Uni-Center in Cologne, which is considered one of the largest residential buildings in Europe. Several callers reported smoke, which spread over all 42 floors, said a fire department spokesman.
Two people were killed and seven injured in a knife attack on a regional train from Kiel to Hamburg on Wednesday. A suspect attacked travelers with a knife before arriving at Brokstedt station. He was arrested shortly thereafter. All the latest news in the ticker.