The election to the 20th German Bundestag was overshadowed by numerous “bankruptcies, bad luck and breakdowns” (Report24 reported). In a letter to the members of the Federal Electoral Committee, the Federal Returning Officer informed them of his objection to the validity of the Bundestag election. It is still unclear whether this will have a direct impact on the formation of the traffic light coalition. In any case, the election for the Berlin House of Representatives seems to have to be repeated.
From Max Bergmann
It is to be seen as a sign of poverty, for a democracy that still exists, at least on paper, in a western country like Germany. After numerous “election mishaps” on the day of the federal election, an intensive review of the incidents reported has now taken place. In response to this, Georg Thiel, Federal Returning Officer, declared his objection to the validity of the election to the 20th German Bundestag.
In Berlin in particular, there was absolute chaos on election day
Errors and irregularities were reported from numerous constituencies, but anomalies were particularly common in the federal capital, Berlin. Ballot papers were swapped between constituencies or were missing entirely. Confidential election forecasts and projections were published on social media before the polling stations closed. Polling stations were closed at times, but then reopened during the day. Voting took place until after 9 p.m. in some cases, even though the first official forecasts and projections were sent to the smartphones of the voters waiting in front of the polling stations as early as 6 p.m. Even minors and EU foreigners who are not eligible to vote could vote for the Bundestag in Berlin. The list of errors and irregularities is long.
Federal Returning Officer objects to the validity of the election
In a letter from the Federal Returning Officer to the members of the Federal Electoral Committee available to the editors, the latter objected to the validity and legality of the Bundestag election on September 26th. With this letter of November 19, Federal Returning Officer Georg Thiel informed that he had “lodged an objection to the validity of the election to the 20th German Bundestag due to the accumulation and severity of electoral errors in six Berlin constituencies”. He named constituencies 75 (Berlin-Mitte), 76 (Berlin-Pankow), 77 (Berlin-Reinickendorf), 79 (Berlin-Steglitz / Zehlendorf), 80 (Berlin-Charlottenburg / Wilmersdorf) and 83 (Berlin-Friedrichshain- Kreuzberg / Prenzlauer Berg Ost). The media also reported errors and irregularities in other polling stations across Germany. For example wrong ballot papers in Wuppertal too issued, but this is not mentioned in Thiel’s letter.
Thiel believes that a completely different distribution of seats in the Bundestag is possible
Federal Returning Officer Thiel also stated that, in his opinion, all of these organizational errors could have been avoided. The decisive factor for his objection to the validity of the election was that “there is a possibility that after the result of the second votes, the errors will come in without the errors (sic!) would have resulted in a different distribution of seats, ”said Thiel in the letter. The Federal Returning Officer therefore considers completely different majorities in the Bundestag to be possible in principle. The examination of the processes is not completed, as Thiel announced. “I will inform you about the further progress of the electoral review process in due course,” he said.
Berlin House of Representatives: constitutional lawyer expects new elections
The election for the Berlin House of Representatives also took place on September 26th and was also riddled with massive irregularities. While the Federal Returning Officer has not yet made any clear statements about a possible repetition of the Bundestag election, expressed himself Constitutional lawyer Christian Waldhoff to the RBB more specifically. He considers a complete repetition of the Berlin election possible if the objections submitted so far are successful. Since serious mishaps occurred in 200 polling stations on September 26th, this could have had a serious impact on the Berlin state elections, Waldhoff explained on Friday as part of the RBB Abendschau program. He firmly counts on the fact that at least the electoral districts will have to be re-elected in which there were a particularly large number of irregularities. The resigned state returning officer Petra Michaelis has already filed an objection against the validity of the election to the House of Representatives. Ex-SED interior senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) wants to follow and announced his objection for Monday.
Consequences for traffic light coalition negotiations at the federal level so far unclear
The so-called traffic light coalition made up of the SPD, Greens and FDP wants their joint candidate for Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on December 6th elect the new Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is so far unclear whether the objection of the Federal Returning Officer will have an impact on this project of the traffic light parties. Thiel questioned the current majority situation at least justified, the consequence could be a new election. It has also not been clarified whether only the constituencies concerned would have to be re-elected or whether the entire election would have to be declared invalid and repeated. One consequence is already foreseeable. The current executive Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) would most likely be for many more weeks if the Bundestag election were to be re-electeden, possibly months in office.