WORLD: After the judgment of the State Constitutional Court, you have 90 days to set up a repeat election. On February 12, the Berlin House of Representatives and district assemblies are to elect new ones. How prepared are you this time?
Stephan Bröchler: Good, because we started preparing before the verdict – for example by ordering paper. We have included many recommendations for action from the expert commission for elections. I am optimistic that this election will go smoothly.
WORLD: What will be different this time compared to the chaos election on September 26, 2021?
Bröchler: First of all, there will be no parallel major sporting event. Secondly, we make sure that there are enough ballot papers available. The delivery from the printer to the polling stations is precisely logged. We will increase the number of voting booths. And there are also improvements in training.
WORLD: However, there is a new threat: The Berlin 2030 climate-neutral initiative wants the referendum to be voted on on February 12th after the successful referendum in order to mobilize as many people as possible. You protested. Why?
Bröchler: Because I see it as my job to point out when a problem is looming. It's just not logistically organized. It starts with the fact that the printers could only deliver the paper for the voting documents for the referendum on December 23rd. It's far too late to print and bag everything. Postal voting begins on January 2nd. The districts have informed us in unison that preparation within this short period of time is impossible.
What's more, the repeat election would be seriously jeopardized by a referendum taking place at the same time. It's my job to ensure that the election debacle doesn't happen again. So I have to issue a serious warning here.
WORLD: Don't you trust the districts to send the election documents on time?
Bröchler: The districts are the power plants of choice. The workload is already enormous due to the 90-day period. Personnel must be seconded to this, individual districts have already had to close citizen offices so that this election works smoothly. Holding the referendum in addition is simply not achievable. Berlin must not make a fool of itself again.
For the first time ever, the federal capital has to repeat a parliamentary election. According to the Constitutional Court, there were too many errors that were too serious. "What happened here in Berlin is an unprecedented scandal," comments constitutional lawyer Prof. Rupert Scholz.
WORLD: How do you want to prevent the referendum from being voted on at the same time?
Bröchler: I'm not a political player. The election date for the referendum is not set by me, but by the Senate. I can't ban anything - I can only warn very seriously. Whether that will prevail within the state government, I cannot say. The Senate will decide on Tuesday.
WORLD: Does it annoy you that Berlin has the reputation of being the banana metropolis?
Bröchler: Berlin has to improve its image. Lots of things wrong here. But that's not my perspective. I would like to do better and show with the repeat election that Berlin can hold elections. But yes, it's annoying that in some places people haven't noticed what we're doing to prevent another election debacle.
WORLD: You have increased the number of election workers to 42,000. The refreshment allowance has been increased from 60 to 240 euros so that there are enough election workers on hand. Civil servants get two extra days off, and election officers even get three extra days off if they help out on election Sunday. Is the desperation so great?
Bröchler: Of course, we would like many citizens to participate without money out of civic responsibility. On the other hand, we need 42,000 election workers in the short term. And the 240 euros are already a high motivation. In a way, the money is also a thank you to the election workers who had to endure the chaos of the last election and are now making themselves available again.
We've already had a lot of feedback. In the next elections, however, there will not be such a high sum. It is due to the exceptional situation we are in now. We are doomed to succeed. And that also makes me optimistic. Everyone knows how high the pressure is and how much Berlin is being watched from outside – and not just from Germany, by the way.
WORLD: The Senate has even requested election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Is that important?
Bröchler: That was my suggestion. There's no better way to show that we've learned from the last elections! Despite all the problems, we are still a functioning democracy.
WORLD: After all, a major sporting event is not planned this time. How megalomaniac was it that Berlin of all places dared to hold four elections and a marathon at the same time in 2021?
Bröchler: In the vote on the election date, Berlin pointed out that the marathon would be a big problem. However, one could not assert oneself with this point of view. Perhaps we should have applied a lot more pressure. This time I have the firm assurance from the Senator for the Interior that there will be no comparable events. The election should be a celebration of democracy.
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