Berlin regional elections in 2021 must be rerun, says court

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By AP  with Euronews
People queued in front of a polling station in the Moabit district of Berlin on the day of the votes.
People queued in front of a polling station in the Moabit district of Berlin on the day of the votes.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Michael Probst

Berlin will need to repeat its 2021 state and district elections, the German capital’s constitutional court has ordered.

The regional votes in the German capital last September were marred by severe glitches, the court said on Wednesday.

Judges ruled that the vote result was invalid "in view of the large number and severity of the election errors".

Long lines formed outside many polling stations in Berlin on 26 September 2021 as voters struggled with ballot papers for four separate votes.

On the same day, Berlin held simultaneous federal, state, and district-level elections, as well as a city-wide referendum on expropriating the property of large real estate companies. The Berlin Marathon, also held the same day, added to logistical difficulties.

Some polling stations ran out of ballot papers while others received ones for the wrong district, leading to a large number of invalidated ballots.

Another issue was that the election was supposed to end at 18:00, but people waiting in line at that time were still allowed to cast their votes.

Several political parties and government entities, including Berlin’s election authority and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, had filed formal complaints and called for an investigation into the election results.

A new state election must now be held within 90 days following Wednesday’s ruling.

Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey said her regional government would not challenge the court ruling and will do everything to make sure the rerun election is well-organised.

“It’s very clear that mistakes were made here that must not happen again, that shouldn’t have happened,” she said on Wednesday.