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After the scolding by the constitutional court: The Berlin election disaster must now have consequences

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First a service note: On April 2, 2023, the half marathon will take place in Berlin. So if the capital has to vote again, it should choose a Sunday other than this one. It’s all embarrassing enough.

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“A complete invalidity of the elections to the Berlin House of Representatives and for the twelve district assemblies is possible.” What the Berlin Constitutional Court found on Wednesday, the Berliners, who waited in thousands in long lines a year ago to finally cast their votes, have known for a long time for the Bundestag, state parliament, district assemblies and referendums.

Correct ballot papers were missing in masses, which also subsequently did not find their way through the city due to the marathon taking place at the same time.

The end of the muddle

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If the preparations were too limited, the administration thought they could muddle through in old Berlin style. It worked the new Berlin way: not.

A blow to the commitment of all voluntary election workers who were supposed to save what the state was not able to manage. A disaster above all for the democratic community, which lives from trust in free, secret and fair, and therefore cleanly organized elections. This must now have consequences.

First political: The former interior senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) has tried to formally declare himself incompetent since the disaster. But even as a busy building senator, he cannot escape the responsibility that his authority had for overseeing the elections – and now he has to take the consequences.

With him, the entire red-green-red Senate is on the brink – and Berlin’s politics in the midst of complex crises are about to make a new start. She doesn’t have to solve a crisis of confidence first, but first and foremost, for which she is responsible.

The parties have already started the election campaign

No one can pretend surprised. For weeks, the parties have been secretly and intensively preparing for the emergency that is now likely to occur. Green Environment Senator Bettina Jarasch seems to be on an unofficial campaign tour with countless appointments in the city. The 29-euro ticket for local transport, which was pushed through in particular by the Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) against the resistance of Brandenburg, is not only seen as an early election campaign gift in the neighboring country. In view of the ongoing reform backlog in schools, offices and on the streets, their popularity is nevertheless falling.

And the CDU, trimmed for fundamental opposition in federal politics despite years of its own failings and in the midst of a crisis that is shaking society as a whole, announces that it now wants to “conquer all of Berlin”.

Berlin’s districts would also have to start over again

It’s only been a year since the old election, and already everything is completely different. Berlin has a new election, a very exciting one: will the SPD, led by party patriarch Raed Saleh, try to save itself this time by forming a coalition with the CDU and FDP? Will the Greens and the CDU join forces to break decades of SPD rule in the Red City Hall?

How weak does the left become when it doesn’t manage to credibly distance itself from the Russian war despot Putin? How strong is the increasingly radical protest party AfD, which even in Berlin does not manage to credibly distance itself from right-wing extremists? And how will many an alliance in Berlin’s districts, which has been painstakingly forged over months, look like after a new election?

How high or low will the voter turnout be after a socially frosty winter with a war ahead and expensive energy reserves on the accounts?

All this speaks for intensive months. But none of that is the main thing about Berlin’s disastrous marathon election. The most important thing will be to repair the trust that has been destroyed – through a really free, secret, fair election, through an administration that finally works. Only that will strengthen democracy in times of crisis and also make Berlin a stronger city again. Who is responsible for this now?

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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