Partial repeat of the federal election: no election evening as usual

Partial repeat of the federal election: no election evening as usual

This Sunday there was another federal election in Berlin, at least in parts of the city. The results will only be known at night.

First assignment as an election observer? Oscar the dog Photo: Annegret Hilse/rtr

BERLIN taz | 5:59:58 p.m., 5:59:59 p.m., 6 p.m. In any other state or federal election, colorful bars would go up on screens nationwide, black for the CDU, red for the SPD and so on. ARD election expert Jörg Schönenborn would explain the forecast, after which the first party leaders would stand in front of the television cameras and comment on it.

But none of this is happening on this evening of the partial repeat of the 2021 federal election in Berlin. Not in the “Kochwerk”, an event location in the northeastern district of Pankow, where the leading faces of the state CDU meet around their boss Kai Wegner, who is also the city-state’s head of government. And not even at the SPD in the “Varia Vineta” theater just a few kilometers away. Here and there, you won’t know until 1:30 a.m. whether you have captured the constituency won by the Greens in 2021, when everything is supposed to be counted.

Bars and analysis, they would be based on surveys of people after they left their polling stations, the so-called exit polls. But that doesn’t exist this Sunday. Calculated in terms of majorities and constituencies, it’s simply not enough to make the effort worthwhile and of interest nationwide. Even if there were new elections not only partially but throughout Berlin, the majority of the traffic light coalition would not be at risk.

Hardly more than one in five

However, the Federal Constitutional Court’s ruling shortly before Christmas limited the repetition to just 455 of Berlin’s over 2,200 electoral districts. Only just under 22 percent of the almost 2.4 million eligible voters in Berlin are allowed to vote, barely more than one in five. The background to the judgment was the numerous mishaps in the election on September 26, 2021, when the state and twelve district parliaments were also elected in Berlin parallel to the Bundestag.

The fact that there is anything resembling tension this evening is due to the unequal distribution of these 455 electoral districts across the city. In Pankow, over 80 percent are allowed to vote. In the southeastern constituency of Treptow-Köpenick, for example, the constituency of left-wing icon Gregor Gysi, the figure is less than 4 percent.

It will only be exciting this Sunday where there will be significantly more elections and where the CDU, which is currently booming nationwide, did not win in 2021, but was not unassailably far behind the constituency winners. Realistically speaking, apart from Pankow, this only affects the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf constituency, the district around Ku’damm and Bahnhof Zoo in the west of the city.

CDU hopes for Pankow

It is the city’s celebrity constituency: In 2021, the former governing mayor Michael Müller (SPD) was ahead of Lisa Paus (Greens), who later became Federal Family Minister. But victory that evening could go to the third party at the time, the CDU candidate who was already successful here in the 2017 election.

In Pankow, the CDU candidate was significantly further behind the green constituency winner in 2021. But there will be another election there almost district-wide, and the CDU had already moved closer to the Greens in the repeat election to the House of Representatives in February 2023. Since then, the Christian Democrats have continued to make gains in polls.

So it is no coincidence that the Berlin CDU leadership is currently meeting in Pankow. A CDU victory would be an absolute novelty: After reunification, only candidates from the SPD – such as former Bundestag President Wolfgang Thierse – and the Left Party, or formerly PDS, won in this constituency.

Everything depends on voter turnout

However, a constituency win, whether there or in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, would have an unpleasant side effect for the state CDU: its general secretary Ottilie Klein, who was only brought into office by party leader Wegner in 2023 and, as a 39-year-old, a great hope for the party’s future, would lose her seat Bundestag.

The total number of Berlin CDU representatives would remain the same because it results from the number of second votes. In addition to the constituency winners, fewer candidates would then move in from the state list. This is the list through which the party fills parliamentary seats if it is entitled to more of them than it wins constituencies – and Klein was the last person to get into the Bundestag for the CDU in this way.

Almost everything depends on voter turnout this Sunday: the constituency victories as well as the widely desired signal against right-wing extremism in the form of many votes for the parties on this side of the AfD. Only if there is a high level of participation can the deficits from those electoral districts be offset whose results from 2021 remain untouched, when voter turnout across Berlin was 75 percent.

Lower voter turnout

However, it didn’t look like that at lunchtime: by 12 p.m., only 18.3 percent of those eligible to vote in the 455 electoral districts affected had cast their vote – in 2021 this value was almost half higher, namely 26.8 percent. This trend continues: at 4 p.m. it is just under 40 percent compared to 57 in 2021.

The election management wants to continuously announce the interim results of the counting in the evening. However, these are not weighted or extrapolated in any way, so they are not taken into account in the constituency of former Prime Minister Müller, for example, if the first 20 percent of votes counted came exclusively from upscale residential areas in the Grunewald that tend to be close to the CDU. So you will actually have to wait. However, this tends to happen at home – in the CDU’s “Kochwerk”, for example, it’s supposed to end at 9 p.m.


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