Anyone who receives 2.6 percent of the vote in a state election may not be relegated to the "other" category on election night. This is how one can interpret a recent ruling by the Higher Administrative Court (OVG) Berlin-Brandenburg (Az.: OVG 3 B 43/21). It referred to the last state election in Brandenburg.

In the RBB broadcasts "Brandenburg-Wahl: Die Entscheidung", "Brandenburg aktuell" and "rbb24", the party Mensch, Umwelt, Tierschutz (Animal Welfare Party) was combined with three other parties, each well below one percent, under the heading "Other". RBB had justified the presentation with the constitutionally protected freedom of broadcasting and the editorial freedom to which it is therefore entitled.

Legitimate interest in the disclosure of the result

The OVG did not follow this line of reasoning. The claim of the Animal Welfare Party arises from the right of the parties to equal treatment guaranteed in Articles 21 and 3 of the Basic Law. There was "a legitimate interest in the naming of the not insignificant election result", the implementation of the demand could be made without great effort, and the encroachment on the editorial freedom of design was low. The appeal was allowed because of its fundamental importance.

In earlier times, ARD and ZDF occasionally showed forecasts about the performance of smaller parties on election night. In the meantime, the public interested in this must obtain information on the websites of the responsible election officials. The fact that groups such as the Animal Welfare Party, Volt or "Die Partei" do not jump the five percent hurdle, but are sometimes quite successful and reach the minimum quorum to reimburse campaign costs, is often lost on election nights.

Instead, time is wasted on interviews with professorial experts who, minutes after the publication of the forecast, can do little more than poke around in the fog and spread generalities. In Brandenburg, the Animal Welfare Party received 2019.2 percent of the second votes in the 6 election. That corresponded to just under 33,000 voters.