Scholz's coalition suffers losses in repeat of 2021 Berlin vote

Franziska Giffey (R), Berlin Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) state chairwoman and Senator for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises, and SPD candidate Klaus Mindrup speak on stage at the Varia Vineta municipal theater. Due to numerous glitches, the 2021 federal election in Berlin will have to be partially repeated. Soeren Stache/dpa
Franziska Giffey (R), Berlin Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) state chairwoman and Senator for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises, and SPD candidate Klaus Mindrup speak on stage at the Varia Vineta municipal theater. Due to numerous glitches, the 2021 federal election in Berlin will have to be partially repeated. Soeren Stache/dpa

The governing coalition of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz suffered minor losses during Berlin's partial re-run on Sunday of the 2021 federal election, ordered by a court after the city documented 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.

According to preliminary results from Sunday's vote, with 99.9% of electoral areas counted, Scholz's governing centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) and coalition members the Greens and pro-business FDP were each set to make losses of under one percentage point among Berlin voters.

The SPD was set to remain the strongest party in the capital with 22.3% (a drop of 1.2 percentage points), closely followed by the Greens with 22% (a drop of 0.3 percentage points).

The conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) were meanwhile set to gain around 1 percentage point each.

The CDU improved to 17.2% (a 1.3 percentage point gain), while AfD climbed to 9.4% (a 1 percentage point gain) and overtook the FDP, which fell to 8.1% (a loss of 0.9 percentage points). The Left Party practically maintained its 2021 election result with 11.5% (a 0.1 percentage points gain).

The vote had not been expected to alter the majority of Scholz's centre-left governing coalition as it affects only 0.9% of voters nationwide, however the result will be interpreted as a reflection of overall low satisfaction with the government in recent polling.

The Bundestag was also set to have one less seat, going from 736 to 735, including 91 occupied by the FDP which lost one seat. The other parties were set to keep the same number of seats.

Almost 550,000 Berliners were called to vote on Sunday. The electoral administration reported a turnout of 69.5% for the capital city following the re-run. This was the lowest turnout for a federal election in Berlin since 1990.

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.

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

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

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, down from 57% at the same time in 2021, according to electoral officials.

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

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