The political and administrative scientist Stephan Bröchler becomes the new Berlin state returning officer. The Tagesspiegel learned this from Senate circles. Bröchler is to be officially appointed by the Senate next Tuesday and will take up his duties on October 1st. At the same time, the current election officer, Ulrike Rockmann, will be relieved of her duties.

Bröchler was previously a member of the independent commission set up by the Senate last November in response to numerous mishaps in the Berlin House of Representatives and Bundestag elections. There had been various problems with the conduct of the election, including the temporary closure of polling stations, long queues and wrong or missing ballot papers.

The new state returning officer has been a professor of political and administrative sciences at the Berlin School of Economics and Law since 2020. Bröchler studied law, political science and philosophy in Cologne, social sciences in Duisburg and politics and administration at the University of Konstanz.

According to Tagesspiegel information, Bröchler is said to have been the Senate’s choice for the position of state election commissioner. Whether the 59-year-old will work as a state returning officer on a voluntary basis or full-time is still an open question. Volunteer work and time off from teaching in the run-up to elections, as has been the norm in Berlin up to now, would be conceivable.

Bröchler was only recruited by the Senate Interior Administration at the beginning of August as an adviser to the “Task Force Elections” set up by Interior Senator Iris Spranger (SPD). In the future, Bröchler will be in charge of organizing upcoming elections in Berlin.

The expert commission, with Bröchler’s participation, came to the conclusion in July that the previous state returning officer had been “king without a country”. The report went on to say that the main task of the state returning officer was “to be a communicator and overall ‘manager’.” This requires “a strong personality with assertiveness, even at higher levels”.

When the report was presented in July, Bröchler said that the mishaps on election day were “not a natural phenomenon” that befell everyone. In addition to many other proposals, the commission proposed the establishment of a central state electoral office to ensure that future elections can be conducted successfully.

A “Good Elections” working group is currently working on implementing the recommendations for action. The districts are also involved. A cross-district concept is being discussed that is intended to set uniform standards, for example for the qualification of poll workers and the logistics of ballot paper distribution.

A next meeting of the working group is planned for October. The Bundestag’s decision on a rerun of the Bundestag elections in some parts of Berlin is also expected for the month.

A public hearing on the election to the House of Representatives will take place in front of the Berlin Constitutional Court on September 28th. It will then decide by the end of the year whether a new election is required. The current state returning officer, Rockmann, will probably attend the hearing. It should be one of her last tasks before she hands over to the new chief election organizer Stephan Bröchler.