Germany’s high court ruled on Tuesday that February 12, will br the date to a re-run of Berlin’s contested 2021 state and municipal elections
The Federal Constiutional Court (BVerfG) struck down several urgent requests to postpone the repeat vote.
Judges still have to consider the main hearing seeking to cancel the new vote altogether, but said that the election will still go forward while they examine the case.
Berlin’s state election in September resulted in a narrpw victory for the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) that saw them enter a coalition with the runner-up Greens.
“We will now do everything possible until February 12 to ensure that a smooth election is held in Berlin,” said mayor Franziska Giffey of the SPD.
Giffey has only held her post since the disputed vote, and faces steep competition from the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and Green Party.
The opposition CDU hailed Tuesday’s decision as “good for democracy and good for Berlin.”
Regional leaders for the Green Party said they met the verdict with “relief.”
Why do the Berlin elections have to be repeated?
Berlin, which is not only the capital but one of Germany’s 16 federal states, held four votes on the same day on September 26, 2021 — the federal election, the state election, local district elections, and a referendum on socializing major housing companies.
While election fraud has not been alleged, it soon emerged that several irregularities had taken place during the vote. This included inaccessible polling places due to the Berlin Marathon being run the same day, ballots being delivered to the wrong locations, and some voters only being given a ballot for Germany’s federal election and not the regional vote.
After months of investigation, Berlin’s top court said there were grounds to hold a fresh vote.
A cross-party coalition of some 43 Berlin politicians and civilians sought to overturn the decision and stop a repeat election.
The new vote will not affect the federal election that saw Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) come to power. It could, however, restructure the balance of power in Germany’s upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, which represents the 16 state governments.
While you’re here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing.