World Report: Berlin’s Repeat State Elections


Last month Split Ticket examined recent electoral and political developments in Brazil and Peru, bringing back World Report for the 2023 cycle. This edition of the series will review the results of the January presidential runoff in the Czech Republic while previewing today’s redo state elections in Berlin.

Czech Republic – January 27th and 28th

On January 28th, former general and NATO commander Petr Pavel defeated ex-Prime Minister and businessman Andrej Babiš by nearly 17 points in the Czech Republic’s presidential runoff. Pavel’s 58.3% of the vote is the highest share received by a winning presidential candidate since independent elections were first held after the 1993 dissolution of Czechoslovakia.

Courtesy of @Quinby_

Pavel predictably dominated in the capital city of Prague, but also won comfortably across the southern and central regions of Bohemia and Moravia. Babiš, meanwhile, drew support from both Czech Silesia in the northeast and northwestern portions of the Republic bordering Germany like Ústí nad Labem. Over 95% of overseas voters backed the former general in an election that saw 70% second-round turnout — the highest since the country scrapped its electoral college in favor of a popular system going into the 2013 campaign.

Pavel took a plurality over Babiš in the first round by just 0.5%, fueling a divisive campaign in the last two weeks of January. A former NATO commander endorsed by the center-right governing coalition Spolu, Pavel toed a mainstream line during the campaign, advocating the importance of global connections, European institutions, and support for Ukraine. Babiš, representing the ANO (Action of Dissatisfied Citizens), took on a populist tone that made many European Union member states nervous. 

Campaign discourse was not just heated by Czech standards. Babiš, as reported by the Guardian, used his wealth to brand Pavel a “warmonger” for taking an aggressive stance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. His campaign also criticized the retired general for his purported involvement with the communist-era secret police. Most western countries are relieved to see Pavel’s victory. He is expected to adhere to the status quo when he replaces President Miloš Zeman in March.

Berlin State Elections (Redo) – February 12th

The September 2021 Berlin elections, held concurrent with the last federal election, will be repeated today after a November 2022 decision from Berlin’s constitutional court invalidated the original results due to irregularities — most of which stemmed from logistical problems caused by the simultaneous Berlin Marathon.

Errors spanned from ballots containing incorrect information to mail-ins that election authorities sent specific voters twice. Numerous polling locations had insufficient ballots or were temporarily closed, leading to long lines that prevented some voters from having their voices heard. Only the elections to Berlin’s Abgeordnetenhaus and Bezirksparlementen are being redone, as it would be unconstitutional to repeat the successful referendum to expropriate large apartment renting companies.

2021 returns saw the SPD lose ground while remaining the largest freestanding faction in Berlin’s Abgeordnetenhaus. Greens made large gains, mirroring their federal performance and entering a governing coalition with the SPD and the Left. The AfD had the starkest loss (-6.2%) of the represented parties but still cleared the 5% threshold to keep representation in the Abgeordnetenhaus.

Berlin’s redo elections are the first in the history of unified Germany. Unlike new elections, repeated contests do not alter the Legislaturperiode. The requirements also mandate that parties nominate the same candidate slates in individual Wahlkreise (election districts) unless the individuals in question have moved or died.

Given those requirements, all six leaders from 2021 are unsurprisingly leading their parties in today’s redo election. They are sitting Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD), Bettina Jarasch (Greens), Kai Wegner (CDU), Klaus Lederer (Left), Kristin Brinker (AfD), and Sebastian Czaja (FDP). The CDU has steadily led in public polling over the course of the campaign, which, if the party wins a plurality, would create an opportunity for a Große Koalition with the SPD.

Giffey, the former Mayor of Neukölln, resigned as the government’s family minister after plagiarism accusations regarding her doctoral thesis surfaced. She led the SPD to victory in the 2021 state elections anyway. Giffey considers herself well-connected to the public, though some in her party view her as too conservative according to Tagesschau.

Jarasch, an environmental senator and the number-two in the SPD-Greens-Left coalition government, hopes that her party will be able to build off its 2021 gains. Greens did gain ground in Landtagswahlen (state elections) in Niedersachsen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, and Schleswig-Holstein last year. The Greens did not suffer the same 2022 national polling decline as the SPD, the leading party in the Ampel Koalition, but regional polls do not predict Green gains in today’s Berlin state elections.

Wegner, a former member of the Bundestag, leads the center-right CDU, the party which polling suggests will win a plurality tonight. Blaming the SPD’s governing coalition for the redo elections, which Tagesschau reports are the most expensive in Berlin’s history, Wegner has attempted to connect crime and dysfunction in Berlin back to the national Ampelkoalition’s woes.

Landtagswahlen (state elections) function like federal contests, giving constituents two votes under a mixed-parliamentary system. The first vote directly elects representatives to 78 Wahlkreise. The second allocates the remaining seats based on party list votes. All parties must secure at least 5% of the second vote to secure representation in the Berlin Abgeordnetenhaus

My name is Harrison Lavelle and I am a political analyst studying political science and international studies at the College of New Jersey. As a co-founder and partner at Split Ticket, I coordinate our House coverage. I write about a variety of electoral topics and produce political maps. Besides elections, my hobbies include music, history, language, aviation, and fitness.

Contact me at @HWLavelleMaps or