Franziska Giffey, the SPD candidate to be the mayor of Berlin, won 21.4 percent of the vote, beating rival candidates from the Green party on 18.9 percent and the conservative CDU on 18.1 percent.
Opinion polls had shown Giffey running neck-and-neck with the Greens’ Bettina Jarasch.
Giffey told the RBB broadcaster that she wanted to talk to both the Greens and the conservative CDU about forming a possible coalition, saying her priority was “to get as much of the SPD’s programme into the coalition negotiations as possible.”
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Berlin is currently run by a coalition between the SPD, the Greens and the far-left Die Linke.
The SPD has been in charge there for 20 years. Its outgoing mayor Michael Meuller decided not to run again this time.
Giffey was previously families minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government, but resigned in May over claims she plagiarised her doctoral thesis.
Berlin’s Free University later rescinded Giffey’s PhD title – often seen as an important bona fide in German politics – after a review of her 2009 doctoral thesis.
The German capital also voted convincingly on Sunday in favour of forcing major property companies to sell thousands of flats to the city, in a referendum sparked by a local petition.
A total of 56.4 percent of Berliners voted yes in the referendum, preliminary results showed, though the result is not binding.
Mit 56,4% hat sich die Mehrheit der wahlberechtigten Berliner:innen für die Vergesellschaftung der großen Immobilienkonzerne und damit gegen die Spekulation mit Wohnraum entschieden. 💛💜 pic.twitter.com/25vkeawO9P
— Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen (@dwenteignen) September 27, 2021
Residents in the capital have become increasingly frustrated with rising housing costs, as the city’s attractiveness to outsiders has grown in recenyears.
Giffey has said she is against the expropriation push.