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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Berlin is breaking down stereotypes about fastidious Germans. The airport and the election were confused

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One of the long-standing views about Germany is that it is a country where everything works in an orderly manner, its people are very punctual and hardworking. Even to the Germans themselves, this stereotype is no longer as valid as it used to be.

The current situation in the capital of the Federal Republic testifies to the fact that German excellence can sometimes be quite misleading. Berlin’s leadership received an embarrassing rebuke this week when the regional constitutional court ruled that the results of last year’s elections for city council and individual city districts’ councils were invalid. Due to many errors in the organization of the elections, the voting will be repeated in February next year.

According to the court, so many “serious systemic shortcomings” occurred during the preparation that the successful course of the September 2021 elections was threatened in advance. While not the first case in Germany’s modern history, the amount of error was unparalleled (in the first half of the 1990s, regional elections in Hamburg were repeated due to errors in the Christian Democrats’ candidate list).

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The Citizens’ Income Act (Bürgergeld) is expected to replace the strict rules of the old Hartz IV labor market reform from the time of former chancellor Gerhard Schröder. According to the new rules, the basic monthly income for the unemployed, from the previous 449, must have increased to 502 euros from next year.

In some polling stations in Berlin, ballot papers were missing and voters sometimes had to wait in long queues. And in hundreds of cases, voting continued long after 18:00, when the elections officially ended. Some commissions received election papers that belonged elsewhere. Altogether, the court recorded misconduct between at least 20,000 and 30,000 voters.

In addition, voting took place in the Bundestag elections of all Germany on the same day. Lawmakers this month agreed to re-vote in less than one-fifth of all Berlin districts. However, complaints can still be made, so a repeating parliamentary election across Berlin is out of the question.

The Constitutional judges’ decision was not surprising, they already voiced their views at a public hearing this September. After the decision, however, a huge wave of harsh criticism fell on the capital’s leadership for the snobbery of the city government. In the comments they wrote about “disaster”, “scandal”, “nonsense” or “Berlin election chaos”.

The mayor of Berlin, Francizka Giffey, of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), created new excitement by saying that while unacceptable mistakes were made in the organization of the election, the blame was “on the shoulders of many” and was reluctant to apologize directly. .

He did not even support a call for the dismissal from the city government of a party colleague who, as Berlin’s senator for internal affairs at the time, was also responsible for organizing the elections. “Your party – the SPD – is by far the most responsible for this disgrace,” Kai Wegner, chairman of the CDU, the strongest opposition party in the Berlin parliament, told the mayor.

At the same time, Berlin is not only infamous for its state elections. It has also made headlines in German newspapers in recent months for its chronic shortage of teachers, with more than a thousand missing in schools in the capital. The reason is mainly relatively low salaries.

Previously, the reputation of the German capital was tarnished by the long and expensive construction of a new international airport named after former chancellor Willy Brandt.

The airport, which started to be built in 2006, was originally planned to open in November 2011. Due to faulty planning, poor construction supervision and a number of technical shortcomings, the deadline was delayed a total of seven times, and the airport finally opened in 2011. October 2020. Due to rising costs, which eventually exceeded seven billion euros, the project has become a symbol of a megalomaniacal project out of control.

Source: Seznam Zpravy

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