#140: Firework violence, BVG screw-up, fewer sick kids, night train
February's election do-over
Dear 20 Percent,
Happy New Year!
Remember how Berlin was ordered by the courts to re-do its 2021 elections because the administration couldn’t handle a marathon and a vote on the same day?
The do-over is scheduled for February 12 and the city has gone into campaign mode, with posters already up on lamposts. Mail-in voting kicked off on Monday, too.
It’s not just one election that’s being re-done next month, but two. First, for the Abgeordnetenhaus, the city-state’s parliament. Here, the party that wins the most seats gets to chose the regierender Bürgermeister or regierende Bürgermeisterin — the “governing mayor” — and assemble a coalition to form the confusingly named Senat, the executive branch of the city-state’s government. To participate in the Abgeordnetenhaus election you have to hold a German passport and be at least 18.
Currently, the incumbent centre-left SPD, headed by mayor Fransiska Giffey, and Greens are polling at around 20% each, as is the opposition centre-right CDU. If the leftwing Die Linke (which is also in the current coalition) scores a projected 12%, we can expect the same “red-green-red” constellation in city hall. However, if the Greens win more votes than the SPD, their lead candidate Bettina Jarasch will likely nab the mayoral post.
The elections for the Bezirksverordnetenversammlungen or district councils are also being repeated on February 12. Here, all EU citizens who are at least 16 can vote.
Voters must have lived in Berlin since November 12, 2022.
Then there’s the Bundestagwahl or federal parliamentary election. According to the courts, this also needs to be re-done, but only in certain districts! But for some reason the authorities haven’t decided to add this one to the February 12 ballot.
I couldn’t find any official info on the elections in English, but Berlin’s election office created a pdf with all the info in “easy-to-understand” German, in case you’re interested.
More news below!
Berlin corona stats for Tuesday, January 3
New cases in one day: 1,413 (1,693 Friday)
Total deaths: 5,275 (+20 over Friday)
➡️ 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 223.3 (199.0 Friday)
➡️ 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 17.1 (16.9 Friday)
➡️ Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 5.6% (7.0% Friday)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
After two years of corona-related firework restrictions, we saw Berlin’s most violent New Year’s Eve in years: 41 injured police officers, 15 injured firefighters, vast destruction of property. Berlin’s interior affairs minister Iris Spranger (SPD) went on TV to call for a nationwide ban on the private use of fireworks, as well as more bodycams and dashcams for police and firefighters — in the hope of capturing more perpetrators on video. The police union GdP also favours a national ban on firework sales. Opposition politicians say fireworks should only be banned in certain problematic areas. First responders came under direct attack from horizontally fired rockets. Bus shelters were destroyed, balconies, dumpsters and vehicles set on fire. In Hermannstraße, a fire truck was plundered by a group of masked attackers. Around 160 people, mostly young men, were arrested. Meanwhile, BSR, reponsible for city sanitation, said it cleaned up a record 520 cubic metres of NYE trash on Sunday, up from 400 in 2020.
Sick kids: “The worst is over”
The tsunami of illness among Berlin’s children has peaked, Jakob Maske, spokesman for Germany’s association of pediatricians, told radioeins. Before Christmas, doctors and hospitals had been inundated by children with flu and the respiratory ailment RSV. “The worst is probably over, surgeries are relatively empty at the moment,” he said, but warned that there’s still a shortage of fever-reducing medication and basic antibiotics.
BVG bungles direct debit
Rather than debit its subscription customers €29 at the beginning of the month, BVG charged many Berliners the “regular price” of €63, reports the Morgenpost. The reduced price of €29 is supposed to be valid through at least April. BVG’s social media department spent yesterday apologising to individual users on Twitter for “technical problems” and telling them that they would be promptly refunded, but there’s no mention of the cock-up on its own accounts or website.
Brussels-Berlin night train
From May 25, a new night train operated by European Sleeper will connect the Belgian capital with the Hauptstadt three times a week, the International Railway Journal reports. On the return journey, the “Good Night Train” will depart Berlin Hauptbahnhof at 22.56, stopping in Amsterdam (6.31), Rotterdam (7.32), Antwerp (8.47) and elsewhere, before arriving at Bruxelles Midi at 9.27. One-way tickets will start at €49 for a seat or €79 for a couchette. The connection is being promoted as an easy way to reach London by rail (via the Eurostar from Brussels). Tickets go on sale on February 20.
This year, parking fees go up in Berlin’s 61 paid parking zones — as Berlin gently and slowly tries to make driving less attractive. Hourly fees are all up by €1. And don’t forget: you can now park your bicycle, motorcycle or e-scooter for free in a roadside spot for cars. Another change expected some time in 2023: the cost of residents’ annual parking stickers (for cars) will rise from €10.20 to €120.
And a little comedy for Saturday
Back from the New Year's festivities? Eyes and ears tired from the bright fireworks and loud explosions? This Saturday, Jan. 7, calm your tired eyes with some darkness and soothe your pained ears with the dulcet tones of Two Jews in Dark Mode, Berlin's first and best dark, English-language comedy show! Two Jews have performed together since 2019, developing a reputation for their irreverent comedy. You may have already seen them around Berlin! Supporting Two Jews are Fabian Barahmeh and Tera Kilbride! Get some tickets here. After the main show, we also have a free late show with comics new and experienced and sometimes special guest surprises! As a special treat for 20 Percent readers use the promo code 20percent for 20 percent off! Check out our next shows here!
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