The CDU celebrates its greatest success in Berlin for more than twenty years. But whether the top candidate Kai Wegner will also lead the government is an open question. The FDP flies out of the House of Representatives.
Triumph for the CDU, historic defeat for the SPD and farewell to another state parliament for the FDP: the Christian Democrats, with lead candidate Kai Wegner, became the strongest force by far in the elections in Berlin.
The SPD of Prime Minister Franziska Giffey fell: on Sunday evening she fought a close race with the Greens for second place and also lost her direct mandate in the Neukölln 6 constituency against the CDU candidate Olaf Schenk. Top candidate Giffey has a place in the House of Representatives via her party’s list. The AfD grew and is certainly represented again in the House of Representatives, the FDP was narrowly eliminated.
The CDU performed as strongly as it had in more than twenty years and claimed the right to form a government under its leadership. A two-party alliance with either the SPD or the Greens would be possible. But the SPD, the Greens and the Left could also continue their previous coalition.
After counting all the votes, the CDU gained around ten percentage points in the repeat election and came to 28.2 percent (2021: 18.0 percent). The SPD is 18.4 percent (21.4), the Greens too (18.9). But the SPD has a lead of only 105 votes. The left slipped to 12.2 percent (14.1). The AfD, on the other hand, gained 9.1 percent of the vote (8.0). The FDP lost significantly and failed with 4.6 percent at the five percent hurdle (7.1).
The state returning officer did not have any information on the distribution of mandates on Monday night. According to projections by ARD and ZDF late in the evening, the CDU will have 48 to 50 seats. The Greens received 31 to 33 and the SPD 31 to 32 mandates. The left has 21 to 22 seats, the AfD 16.
Wegner: They have a government mandate
CDU top candidate Wegner spoke of a “phenomenal” success and said: “Our job is to form a stable government.” Berlin chose the change. He announced that he would invite the SPD and the Greens to explore. The CDU federal chairman Friedrich Merz wrote on Twitter: “The clear government mandate for the CDU is the first step towards our goal of making the federal capital work better.”
Giffey spoke of a difficult evening for her SPD – “there is nothing to explain”. But it is not automatic that the CDU is now the head of government. “Even Mr. Wegner will have to organize political majorities.” The SPD federal chairwoman Saskia Esken sees “no power options” for the top candidates, despite the CDU’s high gains. “Kai Wegner clearly ran a demarcation and division campaign,” she said on Sunday evening on the ARD talk show “Anne Will”. Therefore, she sees few opportunities for him to form a government.
Wegner, Giffey or Jarasch?
The Greens’ top candidate Bettina Jarasch spoke out in favor of continuing the coalition with the SPD and the left. “The current governing coalition has a clear and stable majority,” she said on ARD.
A new edition of red-green-red would be a challenge to Wegner, who has now led the CDU forward again. The 50-year-old was born in Berlin, is married, has three children and lives in the Spandau district. The Hertha BSC fan is little known outside of the city.
The 44-year-old SPD state leader, who grew up east of Berlin, was mayor in the Neukölln district and rose to become federal family minister in 2018. Giffey resigned from the cabinet in May 2021 because of a plagiarism scandal surrounding her doctoral thesis.
Should the Greens become the second strongest party, the 54-year-old senator for the environment, Jarasch, has the option of becoming the first Greens head of government in Berlin and replacing Giffey. Born in Augsburg, she stands for a traffic turnaround away from combustion cars and an ambitious fight against global warming – which reduces the political intersection with the FDP and CDU.
What does the result mean for the federal government?
The success of the Berlin CDU should give the federal party and its chairman Merz a boost, because this year there are three state elections in Bremen, Hesse and Bavaria. The result is a setback for the SPD in the federal government, because Giffey could lose her position as head of government in Berlin. The federal FDP has to cope with being thrown out of a state parliament again after a series of sensitive election defeats.
Due to serious election glitches, the state constitutional court had declared the election of the state parliament in September 2021 and the district elections invalid – and ordered a repetition. At that time, long queues in front of polling stations and missing, mixed up or copied ballot papers made headlines nationwide. Everything went smoothly on this election Sunday, as Berlin’s state returning officer Stephan Bröchler said: “I’m very pleased that everything went well this time.”
Around 2.4 million people were entitled to vote in the House of Representatives. According to the projections, voter turnout was between 63.5 and 65.0 percent. In 2021 it was 75.4 percent, but the Bundestag was also elected that year.
In addition to rent and transport policy, the major topic of the short election campaign was a sharp debate about New Year’s Eve, when rioters attacked the police and rescue workers.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.