“Maybe the Bahnbabo is missing for the election fun”

“Maybe the Bahnbabo is missing for the election fun”

Ahen Paul-Gerhard Lemcke marks the twentieth mark on his list, it’s almost eleven. “If we foresee that we will remain under 50 voters, we have to report it – then we will be merged with the other polling stations,” says the electoral board of district 170-02 in Westend-Süd. Three weeks ago, he and his team handed out ballots at the Goethe-Gymnasium, ticked off election lists and kept a tally on a piece of paper of how many Frankfurt residents have exercised their right to nominate the next mayor.

In the first round things looked different than in the run-off election this Sunday: “In the main election we had 300 voters here plus 370 postal voters from the district,” says Lemcke. Voter turnout was more than 50 percent, well above the city average of 40 percent. In the first ballot, Uwe Becker clearly won the Westend-Süd: the CDU candidate won 47.4 percent. SPD candidate Mike Joseph was trailing behind him and Manuela Rottmann (Die Grünen) with 17.9 percent. If fewer people go to the polls in this CDU stronghold this time, it could have an unfavorable effect on Becker.

The Green voters are resigned

The fact that voter turnout is falling in the second round is nothing new. In the runoff between CDU candidate Bernadette Weyland and the then incumbent and SPD politician Peter Feldmann, it was 30.2 percent in 2018 – the lowest value for such an election in Frankfurt. Some don’t feel like going to the ballot box again, others can’t do anything with the limited options – that’s the same this Sunday. “I voted for Rottmann three weeks ago,” says a young woman from the North East. Now she is unsure who to vote for – she is still struggling with whether she will even go to the polls.

If many Green voters give up, that could have a negative impact on Josef’s result. The Greens even made a recommendation for voting through their parliamentary group in Römer. In the 2018 runoff election, the Green electorate played a role: As the election statistics show, 10,000 Green voters then migrated to the non-voter camp.

Paul-Gerhard Lemcke from the polling station in the Westend also thinks that many are staying at home. “People might not enjoy it as much if they can no longer vote for Bahnbabo,” says the almost 80-year-old electoral officer with a wink. The rain this morning did the rest. Next door, at polling station 170-03, the poll workers thought that the voters must have forgotten to change the clock to daylight saving time – not a single one came in the first hour. Traditionally, however, people tend to go to the ballot box in the afternoon anyway. But who came first thing in the morning was the oldest voter in the district, a 92-year-old lady, says an election worker.

Not much going on in the classrooms: Here, too, the election workers waited in vain for a rush.

picture series

Runoff election in Frankfurt

Impressions from the polling stations

The observation coincides with another statistical finding: it is primarily the elderly who vote. On the runoff Sunday, for example, a pensioner in Bornheim reported that he had made a detour to go past his polling station, while two young women with extremely long artificial eyelashes said something different: “No, so if there’s a federal chancellor election, we’ll go. But Hesse, we’re not that interested in that.” For Mike Josef, it should be decisive how many young voters go to the runoff. Because the clear victory in the first ballot had Uwe Becker won with the votes of voters older than 45 years. If you only look at the result of the younger ones, Rottmann and Josef would be in the runoff.

Duel for the mayoralty: election posters of the SPD candidate Mike Josef and the CDU candidate Uwe Becker for the run-off election.


Mayor election in Frankfurt

Becker vs. Josef: who will be the mayor of Frankfurt?
Image: Frank Rumpenhorst

One of the two parts of the city that Josef won is Bornheim. He got almost 30 percent of the votes there, and at 46.3 percent, the turnout in the district was a good six percentage points above the city average. Did Josef manage to get his voters there to go to the ballot box again? In polling station 272-03 in the Kirchnerschule, Electoral Officer Eva Thiem gives a rather cautiously optimistic assessment of turnout around lunchtime: around ten percent of those eligible to vote were present at the time. But there are also postal voters, a good third of those entitled to vote.

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