Berlin court orders rerun of 'chaotic' 2021 state election

FILE PHOTO: A voter leaves a voting booth in Berlin

BERLIN (Reuters) -Berlin's constitutional court on Wednesday ordered a rerun of a regional parliamentary election in light of "chaotic" conditions at polling stations that may have affected the ballot's outcome.

The vote took place in September 2021 in parallel with federal elections, on the same day as the Berlin Marathon and while a COVID-19 lockdown was in force.

Wednesday's ruling, to be enforced within 90 days and which also covers elections to 12 district councils, confirmed a preliminary assessment from September by the court's judges.

They had cited evidence of long waiting times and temporary closures at polling stations and incorrect or missing ballot papers.

According to Berlin's Tagesspiegel newspaper, the city state's authorities have earmarked Feb 12 for the election reruns.

Berlin's government is led by Social Democratic (SPD) Mayor Franziska Giffey in coalition with the environmentalist Greens and the far-left Die Linke party.

According to a poll published on Wednesday by the INSA institute, the SPD would receive 20% of votes if the repeat elections were held on Sunday, nearly the same as the Greens (20%) and the opposition Christian Democrats (21%).

Die Linke would receive only 12% of the votes, found the online poll of 1,000 respondents.

Voters in 431 of more than 2,250 Berlin polling stations must also recast their federal election votes, the Bundestag lower house of parliament decided last week. That rerun is not expected to have any impact on the composition of the federal government.

(Reporting by Miranda Murray and Alexander RatzEditing by Bernadette Baum and John Stonestreet)