In Berlin, three elections are now repeated. Kind of typical. Berliners love failure.

Measured against the 100 billion that the federal government is investing in Germany’s security, the 39 million that Berlin is now spending on democracy is a downright bargain. There is, however, an important difference between expenditure on external security and that on internal democracy.

The expenses for democracy in Berlin are the unwelcome consequences of an “unforced error”, a mistake without necessity, vulgo: a sloppiness. So the result of something that you already know well from Berlin. So not surprising at all. sarcasm off.

Wait, an addendum: the last election in Berlin was much cheaper. It cost only a third of what the new election, probably on February 12, 2023, will cost. But that was just wrong. That’s called the price of democracy.

Incidentally, the election workers should then get four times as much money as last time: 240 euros, which is not wages, for one day that would certainly not be bad, in Berlin the social precariat ultimately holds the majority, but: “refreshment money”. You can already see them going to freshen up in February, one of the worst months in Berlin, cold and snotty and dirty, the capital then almost as uninhabitable as the moon. The 38,000 poll workers.

It costs more, which for once is not due to inflation, but simply because more money is being spent in Berlin, also for more people. Apparently no one thought of trying to improve the performance of the administration. But maybe this idea is too neoliberal for Berlin anyway.

The new government will not become liberal either, unless the Berliners move. Is that too bad now? The most recent survey provides for an absolute majority for Red-Red-Green, i.e. the incumbent alliance. The local newspaper BZ identified 52 percent of the votes for dark red plus green as “Berlin’s voice”. How should one interpret that? Perhaps the citizens of Berlin expect nothing more than the failure of the city leaders.

Perhaps the only exciting thing could be whether the “ruler”, as the mayor is called here, i.e. whether Franziska Giffey, who was once Angela Merkel’s “girl”, i.e. family minister, has to swap places with the Greens Senator for the Environment, whose name is Bettina Jarasch . The distance is very thin right now, so you will have to count carefully…

According to Insa, the CDU ranks first – but they can’t buy anything for it, not even on Friedrichstrasse, where, thanks to the enormous creativity and efficiency of the Senate and the responsible district government, cars are now allowed to drive again. In other words, thanks to the administrative court, cars are now allowed again. The great “traffic turnaround” has been canceled there for the time being. You also have to be able to protect the climate.

But that’s not really bad either, because Friedrichstraße, planned as Ku’damm Ost after the reunification, as a promenade a la Champs Elysees, is a single failure anyway, or as the Berliner Zeitung judges: “Dead pants”. Which has little to do with the customers who don’t come. Or the shops that are going now. But in the Senate.

The local reporter attests to this: “Middle-class despondency”, Berlin itself “deep-rooted piousness”. Admittedly, a certain desire to experiment, which, however, is designed in day-to-day business “with as many, often less competent, participants as possible”.

We ourselves like to be out and about in Kreuzberg, less in “Kreuzberg brennt”, as the SO36 district is popularly known, but in “Kreuzberg sleeps”, i.e. where a few halfway middle-class people still live and sometimes, next to all the kebabs -Dominance, an Austrian restaurant or the good old Italian. On Bergmannstraße you can study the aesthetic and logistical devastation caused by the city-managed traffic calming measures. There is anarchy in this place now, but worse: it’s ugly now.

We don’t call Berlin a “failed city” here, too many have already done that. For years, a column in the “Tagesspiegel” newsletter was really iconic: it counted the days that had passed since the decision to build a new airport in Berlin. Incidentally, infrastructure projects in Germany can now be rolled out within a few weeks. How good that this LNG terminal was built in Wilhelmshaven and not in Berlin.

But we don’t want to confuse too much here. After all, you have to explain somehow why Berlin is growing inexorably, it won’t be due to its ugliness alone. And why millions of tourists visit the city, Corona or not. They “can’t” organize elections there that well. So what?

Sometimes the polling stations were open longer than six in the evening, you know that from the numerous “lates” who also close when they want, regardless of what’s on the door, if there’s something there. Voters also had to queue, which surprisingly many did. But in terms of democratic theory and practice, it is a bad thing if you can no longer determine afterwards how many Berliners did not vote, how the judges justified the repeat election.

Unfortunately, it won’t be that democratically clean next time either. The result of the election will probably be the same as last time, see polls. But then others will have chosen this same thing. Those who left Berlin are no longer allowed to vote in Berlin. If you’re new, yes. You will have to accept this slight distortion. Where wood is chopped, splinters must fall.

The satirical party “The Party” is holding an election party in Kreuzberg. And on February 5th. Yikes – a week before the actual election Sunday? You have to come up with something like that first. The reason is obvious, at least for Berlin, where chaos has found its home:

“A week beforehand, experience has shown that the mood is better than on the election night itself.”