The undisputed 22-year reign of Social Democrats in Germany’s city-state of Berlin seemed to become history on Sunday as exit polls showed conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) emerge on top in a repeat election.
German broadcaster ZDF’s exit poll on Sunday put the Christian Democrats (CDU) on 27.8 percent of the vote, 9.8 percentage points more than in the 2021 election, which a court ruled invalid due to irregularities.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats, who have enjoyed sway over the capital in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens and hard-left Die Linke, scored 18 percent. The Greens and Die Linke were on 18 percent and 13 percent of the vote respectively, Reuters reported.
“Berlin chose change,” CDU top candidate Kai Wegner said of the results and went on to add that there was a clear mandate for his party to form a state government.
Germany, Berlin regional parliament election today:
the centre-right CDU (EPP) won the most votes, but there are differences between different demographic groups, per the Forschungsgruppe Wahlen exit poll.
CDU only wins 13% among voters younger than 30 years. #Berlinwahl2023 pic.twitter.com/2Jvg9jS9Uq
— Europe Elects (@EuropeElects) February 12, 2023
For left-wing mayor Franziska Giffey, the vote could spell a farewell to her office before her term ends. It could also complicate life for Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, her party ally, by shutting his coalition off from more votes in the upper house of parliament.
Although Giffey came to terms with the election defeat, she said the CDU would still need a stable majority to govern the German capital.
“We must see very clearly that this result shows first that Berliners are not satisfied with what’s there. They wish things will be different,” Giffey said.
Ordered after the September 2021 election was fraught with irregularities not excluding long queues and voters receiving incorrect ballot cards, the repeat vote comes as evidence for those who have pointed out the capital’s shift towards a state of topsy-turvy leaving a blot on Germany’s reputation for efficiency.
For the CDU, their victory will be a second wind ahead of October’s vote in Hesse, home to Germany’s financial capital Frankfurt, where a conservative premier is on the verge of losing office to another Scholz ally.