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Monday, August 7, 2006

Election Agony

If you're an EU citizen resident in Berlin for more than three months, you'll probably have received a Wahlbenachrichtigung (election notice) from your local Bezirksamt (borough office). If not you've probably noticed the sudden plague of posters infesting most lampposts bearing the grinning countenances of pathological liars politicians and would-be politicians and their meaningless slogans.

Yes - it's election time.

September 17th (a Sunday) is the day, and the elections are for both the Abgeordnetenhaus (Berlin's parliament, which selects the Senat, the ruling cabinet) and the Bezirksverordnetenversammlungen - the borough parliaments, who have influence over such important matters as which libraries to close next. EU citizens are only eligible to vote for the Bezirksverordnetenversammlungen (aka BVV), the logic being that under Germany's federal system, the Berlin government has via the Bundesrat direct influence on national politics, and EU citizens are restricted to purely local elections (and of course the European Parliament).

Polling booths (Wahllokal) are open from 8am to 6pm; you must attend the one stated on the Wahlbenachrichtigung; alternatively you can apply at the Bezirkswahlamt (the people who sent you the Wahlbenachrichtigung) to vote at another location in the same borough or alternatively obtain a postal vote.

Voting is not mandatory, though it's a good idea to exercise your democratic rights (such as that to vote for a totally obscure minority party or write a saracastic message on the ballot paper - I'm still thinking about which to do).

Oh yes - this entry's title is a play on the German phrase Qual der Wahl - "the agony of choice", Wahl meaning both "choice" and "election".

Posted at 9:14 AM in