Germany: German electoral authority urges repeat general elections in six Berlin districts over irregularities | International

Voters queue outside a polling station in Berlin on September 26, 2021.
Voters queue outside a polling station in Berlin on September 26, 2021.WOLFGANG RATTAY (Reuters)

Germany could have to repeat the general elections of last September 26 in six electoral districts of Berlin. In the first elections after the departure of Angela Merkel, numerous schools in the capital registered all kinds of irregularities: temporary closures due to lack of ballot papers, closures three hours after the official time when the preliminary results were already known, citizens who were left without vote for the long queues… Georg Thiel, the official in charge of the electoral machinery in Germany, described what happened this Tuesday in the Bundestag as a “systematic failure” and made his opinion very clear to the deputies present in the commission: the elections should be repeated in the six affected districts.

“This kind of thing should not happen in a civilized country,” Thiel abounded in his appearance at the German Parliament’s electoral review commission, which spent almost six hours analyzing the electoral chaos that Berlin experienced last September. In a country renowned for its organizational skills and efficiency, the irregularities in the elections have caused a commotion for which answers are still being sought. A repeat election is unprecedented in Germany.

The general elections coincided in the city-state with the regional ones, those that elect the representatives of the districts and with the controversial referendum that asked the citizens if the large homeowners should be expropriated. As if that were not enough, the German capital held its famous marathon. Part of the problems were due to the monumental traffic jams that day, which delayed the arrival of a truck carrying ballots to the areas where they had been finished.

An electoral repetition could give surprises. In one of the affected districts, Berlin-Reinickendorf, northwest of the capital, the winner of the direct mandate, Monika Grütters of the conservative CDU, beat her Social Democratic rival Torsten Einstmann by less than 2,000 votes. In the rest of the affected constituencies the difference is much wider and it is unlikely that a new vote would offer a different result. But it must be remembered that if the Social Democratic Party (SPD) had received only 800 more votes in the country as a whole, it would be entitled to one more seat in the national Parliament.

Thiel’s intervention has been received with joy in the opposition. The Christian Democrats can now attack for a new front the Die Linke coalition of Social Democrats, Greens and the extreme left that has ruled the German capital since 2016. “How embarrassing!” he exclaimed on his Twitter account the leader of the CDU in Berlin, Kai Wegner: “The Senate [Gobierno de Berlín] led by the SPD embarrasses to the core. Any small municipality organizes elections better”.

Thiel was the first who spared no qualifications about what happened and left in the air rhetorical questions such as: “What else has to happen for us to see that the elections are repeatable or illegal?” The list of irregularities that he presented is long: polling stations closed for up to two hours due to lack of ballot papers, more than 250 polling stations open until after 6:30 p.m. —closing time is 6:00 p.m.— with the last turning the key at 9:31 p.m., the vote illegal of a minor… In total, deficiencies were found in 311 of the 2,257 schools. It is known that up to 170 people remained without voting.

Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.


The representative of the Berlin electoral board assured that they had prepared well for the day and that there were a series of unforeseen events: traffic jams due to the marathon, inexperienced volunteers, problems with the ballots, the pandemic… Many deputies made faces of disbelief : “How come there weren’t enough ballots in the schools before the day started?” one of them asked.

Official Thiel’s opinion is not binding. It will be a political majority that he decides. The Bundestag’s electoral review commission will continue to deliberate and make a recommendation on whether to repeat the elections, although it is not expected until after the summer holidays. In parallel, there are more than 2,000 appeals from individual citizens, so it is very likely that the matter will end up before the Constitutional Court.

Follow all the international information in Facebook Y Twitteror in our weekly newsletter.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button