The SPD candidate Frank Steffen won the run-off election for the district administrator of the Oder-Spree district against the AfD candidate Rainer Galla on Sunday with 52.4 percent of the vote. With 29,963 votes, the mayor of the district town of Beeskow also achieved the approval of 15 percent of eligible voters required for the election, as the election committee announced in the evening. Steffen has thus been elected as the successor to Rolf Lindemann (SPD), who is retiring on 1 August.
Galla won 47.6 percent of the vote and 27,190 votes. In the counting of the votes, Galla was ahead for a long time, until the results of the postal voting districts were added. There, the SPD candidate had a much higher share of the vote than his AfD competitor. Steffen was relieved after the close finish. "I am satisfied, but I must also tell the CDU and the Free Voters that they can not always rely only on the SPD," he told the German Press Agency.
AfD in Brandenburg right-wing extremist suspected case
The SPD mayor was alluding to the fact that the CDU and the Free Voters had not made a recommendation for the run-off election. On the other hand, the Alliance Greens and the Left had called for the election of Steffen. According to the German District Association, there is no district administrator of the AfD nationwide. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution has been observing the AfD Brandenburg since 2020 as a suspected right-wing extremist case.
After the election, Galla nevertheless spoke of a united front of the other parties against him. "But I am happy and proud that we were able to motivate so many citizens to go to the polls." At 38.5 percent, voter turnout in the run-off election was slightly higher than in the first round.
In the first round of the district election on April 23, none of the eight candidates won the required majority of votes, with AfD candidate Galla ahead with 24.8 percent. Steffen came in second with 22.5 percent. Voter turnout was 36.7 percent.
The run-off election in the Oder-Spree district was already the second direct duel between the SPD and the AfD at the municipal level: In the mayoral election in Cottbus, SPD candidate Tobias Schick clearly prevailed over AfD candidate Lars Schieske in the run-off election in October 2022 with 68.6 percent. There, in the first round of voting, Schick was ahead of Schieske - and several parties signaled support for the SPD.