All the data, all the facts: The election for the Berlin House of Representatives

All the data, all the facts
The election to the Berlin House of Representatives

By Martin Morcinek

Triple election day in the German capital: In the state of Berlin, voters will vote on September 26 not only for the Bundestag election but also on the balance of power in the House of Representatives. Which parties are ahead? An overview.

A woman could soon rule in the Red City Hall in Berlin: With the SPD and the Greens, two large parties with their own top candidate are entering the race on the day of the Bundestag election in the election for the Berlin House of Representatives, which is taking place at the same time.

The latest polls suggest a close race at the state level. In purely mathematical terms, according to the polls, a continuation of the red-red-green government coalition that has been in office since 2016 would be possible. However, it is still completely open which party will emerge as the strongest force in the election and thus claim the office of governing mayor.

The Social Democrats, who previously headed the government with Michael Müller, are in the lead with SPD top candidate Franziska Giffey in individual polls shortly before the election. Other surveys, however, saw the Greens at times with their top candidate Bettina Jarasch ahead. In the results of a Forsa survey from mid-August, for example, both parties were in a close neck-and-neck race with 21 percent each. The third strongest force in the Berlin state parliament could therefore be the Berlin CDU with top candidate Kai Wegner.

According to Forsa, the strong left in the German capital would receive around 14 percent of the vote. The AfD could count on around ten percent of the vote. The FDP would come to around 7 percent in Berlin. The share of the vote that falls on the so-called small parties in the surveys is strikingly strong: a total of 37 parties and alliances are competing in Berlin at the state level. In the Berlin Sunday question at Forsa, they would together get around 10 percent of the vote.

Triple election day in Berlin

So everything depends on how the approximately 2.5 million citizens of Berlin who are eligible to vote decide on election day or in advance by postal vote. You do not only have to put your cross on the ballot papers for the election of the House of Representatives. On September 26th, three elections will take place in the capital: With the vote at the federal and state level, the District Assembly will also be elected in the twelve Berlin districts.

But that’s not all in Berlin: In addition to election day at federal, state and district level, a referendum is also pending, which causes heated debates far beyond the city limits. In Berlin it is about the expropriation of large housing companies. The controversial measure is intended to ease the situation on the Berlin housing market.

In the last election five years ago, the turnout at the district level was only 62.3 percent – compared to at least 66.9 percent in the 2016 election to the House of Representatives. In the 2017 federal election, however, significantly more residents of the capital exercised their right to vote: turnout achieved a rate of 75.6 percent here.

Conversely, this results in enormous potential for the participating parties. If the non-voters had formed their own alliance in the previous election to the Berlin House of Representatives, they would have been able to claim a relative majority for themselves.

For the election of the House of Representatives, the parties usually compete with district or Berlin-wide lists. According to the state electoral officer, individual candidates, including those without a party, can also stand for election in the constituencies. In Berlin, any resident of German citizenship aged 18 or over may vote for the election of the House of Representatives, provided that he or she has been living in Berlin for at least three months. Special feature: At the district level, young people aged 16 and over are also allowed to vote in Berlin.

The usual threshold clauses apply to parties: parties are only taken into account in the allocation of seats in the House of Representatives if they have received at least 5 percent of the second votes cast across Berlin or have won a direct mandate in at least one constituency.

The Berlin House of Representatives has at least 130 seats. The threshold for an absolute majority is 66 seats. However, the exact majority ratios can only be calculated after the election, when the number of overhang and compensatory mandates has been determined.

A total of 78 seats will be directly elected with the first vote in the House of Representatives election in the Berlin constituencies. The remaining seats are determined by the lists of the parties and their shares in the second votes. In the previous Berlin election, this resulted in a total of 160 MPs, as some parties received overhang and other compensatory mandates based on the 2016 election results.

At that time, 38 seats were allocated to the SPD, which made it the strongest parliamentary group in the Berlin House of Representatives. The Berlin CDU was able to claim 31 seats. The Greens and Left had a parliamentary group with 27 MPs each. The AfD was represented with 22 seats, the Berlin FDP with 11. Four other MPs were last non-attached.

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