Right makes gains after Berlin partially re-runs 2021 federal election. (EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER)

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German Right makes ground in Berlin election re-run


The German Right achieved small but “significant” electoral gains after a partial re-run of the 2021 federal elections in parts of Berlin.

Initially conducted amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the original vote in the capital was plagued by “errors” apparently involving late voting and missing ballots. That ultimately prompted the country’s constitutional court to rule in favour of holding part of the elections again.

Overall, about one-fifth of the city was asked to vote again on February 11, with the results showing a small but significant shift to the Right.

According to a report by state-funded TV news programme Tagesschau, the centre-right Christian Democrats and populist-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) enjoyed gains. Both saw their share of the vote increase by one point across the city.

The left-wing parties constituting Germany’s ruling “traffic-light” coalition were less fortunate, with all three seeing a drop in popularity.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats suffered the largest drop of the three, down by 1.2 per cent citywide.

His coalition partner, though, the market liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), was the biggest loser on the day, being the only group to lose a seat in the elections.

That was, observers say, in part due to the poor voter turnout for the repeat election, with just 51 per cent of those eligible casting a ballot, compared to 69.5 per cent in 2021.

Due to the German electoral system, this poor turnout has reduced the overall size of the Bundestag by one seat – to the detriment of the FDP.

A number of other politicians in the city also lost their seats as a result of the relatively low turnout and are set to be replaced by party colleagues from other parts of the country.

While its loss on February 11 is far from welcome for the FDP, the vote is unlikely to shift the country’s politics at the Federal level. The governing coalition still has a comfortable majority to rule.

It does, though, appear to enforce the feeling that German democracy is shifting to the Right, with strong polling for both the Christian Democrats and the AfD turning into electoral success.

That does not bode well for the centre-left. Germany is facing multiple major elections in 2024, which could see power in the country shift further to the Right.

The first of these votes will be the European Parliament Elections in June, during which the populist AfD is expected to perform well – despite recent controversy over alleged support within the group for so-called “remigration”.

The AfD is then expected to fare better in the three state-level elections set to take place in the East of Germany later this year, with the party set to come first in the states of Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg.

Some fear that will render the three states “ungovernable”, as centre-right parties may well try to build rainbow coalitions with the hard-line Socialist Left to keep the AfD out of power.