In the mayoral elections in Cottbus, there will be a runoff between SPD candidate Tobias Schick and AfD candidate Lars Schieske in four weeks. According to the preliminary result in the first ballot, Schick was surprisingly ahead with 31.8 percent of the votes, Schieske behind with 26.4 percent. None of the seven candidates received an absolute majority on Sunday, which must also include at least 15 percent - i.e. 11,838 votes. The election was also followed nationally with suspense. the AfD has not yet provided a mayor in Germany.
He was incredibly grateful to be the first to cross the finish line, Schick told the German Press Agency after the first round of voting. "Of course I also know what it means that the AfD was included in the runoff election. That's why it's really about conveying: How can we shape the future together in Cottbus? We don't just need protest, we want to get ahead ", said the managing director of the city sports association.
AfD strongest in local and state elections 2019
AfD candidate Schieske was also satisfied with the first ballot. "We're in the runoff, that's a great success," said the professional firefighter. "We have shown that we can bring people to the polls." In the local and state elections in 2019, the AfD became the strongest force. In the 2021 federal election, the mandate went to the SPDthe AfD was behind it.
The SPD in Brandenburg welcomed the first ballot with joy, while the CDU was disappointed. "It was our goal and of course we are very happy that it worked, that Tobias Schick convinced the people of Cottbus," said SPD General Secretary David Kolesnyk. CDU General Secretary Gordon Hoffmann said: "Of course it hurts that we are not in the runoff election."
Voter turnout at just over 50 percent
Around 79,000 Cottbus residents were called upon to elect a new city leader for the next eight years. Six candidates and one female candidate entered the race: Thomas Bergner (CDU), Tobias Schick (SPD), Lars Schieske (AfD), Sven Benken (Unser Cottbus), Lysann Kobbe (Die Basis), Felix Sicker (FDP) and Johann Staudinger (single applicant). CDU incumbent Holger Kelch did not appear for health reasons. The transfer of office in the town hall will not take place until December 1st. Until then, Kelch will run the city business.
The turnout for voting in the 53 polling stations was 53.3 percent - slightly higher than in the mayoral election in 2014. At that time it was 48.82 percent, as the returning officer announced.
Cottbus faces major challenges in the coming years. With the planned exit from lignite, the city is in the midst of structural change. According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, it is also considered a focus of right-wing extremism in Germany Brandenburg.