Berliners vote in partial re-run of chaotic 2021 federal election

Governing Mayor of Berlin Kai Wegner talks to journalists at his party's election party at Kochwerk in the district of Pankow. Due to numerous glitches, the 2021 Bundestag election in Berlin will have to be partially repeated. Monika Skolimowska/dpa
Governing Mayor of Berlin Kai Wegner talks to journalists at his party's election party at Kochwerk in the district of Pankow. Due to numerous glitches, the 2021 Bundestag election in Berlin will have to be partially repeated. Monika Skolimowska/dpa

Voters in hundreds of Berlin constituencies took to the polls on Sunday for a partial re-run of the 2021 federal election, after numerous mishaps the first time round.

In December, Germany's Constitutional Court ordered a repeat after the botched elections in the city-state in September 2021, including ballot papers being incorrect or going missing altogether.

Queues had also formed outside polling stations beyond the supposed close of voting, when projected results had already been announced.

Stephan Bröchler, the state elections supervisor, said that precautions had been taken to ensure that everything ran smoothly this time. "The mistake must be rectified and only we, the citizens, can do that," Bröchler said on Sunday morning as he cast his vote.

Around half a million Berliners in about a fifth of the city's constituencies were called on to vote. However turnout this time was set to be lower, and had reached just 40.2% by 4 pm (1500 GMT), down from 57% at the same time in 2021, according to electoral officials.

Polls closed at 6 pm, with final results not expected until late on Sunday night.

The vote was not set alter the majority of Chancellor Olaf Scholz's centre-left governing coalition as it affects only 0.9% of voters nationwide.

However, the capital's voters could make minor changes in the make-up of the Bundestag, as the German parliament is known. Berlin currently has 29 of the 736 lawmakers in the national parliament and some lawmakers are at risk of losing their seats while others might be returned for the first time.

At a broader level, the vote was seen as marking the start of a key election year in Germany, with European elections scheduled for June 9, then state elections in Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg in September.

The re-run came after Berlin's 2021 vote was marred by lengthy queues and incorrect or missing paper ballots, along with polling stations that had to stay open after the 6 pm official closing time.

The Berlin Marathon was held on the same day, contributing to the chaos and making it more difficult for officials to deliver replacement ballots to voting locations.

Some voters wound up casting their ballots after forecasts had been released while others did not manage to vote at all amid the chaos.

Sunday's election was historic in Germany in that it was the first re-run of an election ordered by the Federal Constitutional Court.

The vote was unusual further ways, since the layout of districts meant that in some streets, residents on one side of the road may vote again while their neighbours living opposite cannot.

Furthermore, as the same candidates had to stand as in 2021, one former lawmaker currently in custody for support of a far-right terrorist organization was also formally listed.

(L-R) Governing Mayor of Berlin Kai Wegner, Chairman of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) parliamentary group in the House of Representatives Dirk Stettner and Member of the German Bundestag Thomas Heilmann stand in front of their party colleagues at the Kochwerk in the Pankow district on election night. Due to numerous glitches, the 2021 Bundestag election in Berlin will have to be partially repeated. Monika Skolimowska/dpa