BERLIN (AP) – The city of Berlin is holding a court-ordered reprise on Sunday of a chaotic 2021 statewide election that was marred by severe failures at many polling stations that led to queues lasting hours as some polling places ran out of ballots or received ballots for the wrong district.
Berliners have long been frustrated by the German capital’s notoriously dysfunctional ways, which have defied clichés of German efficiency for years and made the city a laughing stock for the rest of the country.
The constitutional court in Berlin, one of three German cities that is also a state in its own right, declared the original vote invalid in November. He said in a statement that a partial replay would not be sufficient “in view of the large number and severity of electoral errors”.
The decision followed complaints from various political parties and government entities over the September 26, 2021 vote for the state legislature.
Berlin held four ballots on the same day that year: the state election, an election for the city’s 12 district assemblies, the German national election, and a local referendum. The Berlin Marathon, also held on the same day, added to the logistical difficulties.
Long lines formed outside many polling places as voters struggled with extra ballots. Some polling stations were left without ballot papers during the day and others received ballot papers for the wrong district, leading to a large number of invalid ballot papers.
Another issue was that the election was supposed to end at 6 pm, but voters who were waiting in line at that time were able to vote – at a time when exit polls were already public.
Franziska Giffey, who belongs to Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats, was elected the new mayor of Berlin in 2021 and leads the city in a coalition of three left-wing parties. The 44-year-old is now running for mayor again.
The main candidate of the Green Party is Senator for Environment and Mobility Bettina Jarasch. Klaus Lederer, the Senator for Culture, is running for the Left Party – both are currently Giffey’s coalition partners.
Kai Wegner is the front-runner for the centre-right Christian Democratic Union, which is currently leading in the polls.
In recent polls, the Christian Democrats led ahead of the Social Democrats and the Greens, with several other parties also expecting a significant proportion of the vote.
Poll estimates leave open who will be Berlin’s next mayor, as several different coalition options are possible.
Among the most pressing issues is the city’s housing market. Rising rents and housing shortages have made affordable living in the city center nearly impossible for many middle-class families.
Berliners would also like to see an end to some of their city’s frustrations.
Among the most worrying problems is the long-delayed opening of the city’s airport. and the near impossibility of making an appointment at the city’s citizen centers to apply for a marriage certificate, register after moving, or apply for a new passport.
The city’s school system is known for its notoriously dilapidated buildings and students who regularly rank at the bottom of national scores when it comes to reading, math and other subjects.
However, despite the many complaints, the city’s 3.6 million residents also love their city, which is lauded for its tolerance, vibrant culture, nightlife and diversity.
Around 2.4 million people are eligible to vote in re-election, according to the German news agency dpa.