Checking the facts: German TV election rehearsal goes wrong and serves as bait | TUSEN | 25.09.2021

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German public broadcaster Das Erste has apologized for airing “accidentally” the projected “fictitious” election results – but the blunder has since been used to fuel baseless allegations of election rigging.

What happened?

During the Friday broadcast of the quiz show “Gefragt – Gejagt” (Requested – Chased), a ticker appeared describing the projected election results. Video clips have since circulated on social media that show the ticker, also known as the crawler, appearing for 7 seconds before disappearing from view.

The erroneous ticker listed the center-left Social Democrats as overtaking Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU party with 22.7% and 22.1% respectively, while the far-right populist Alternative for Germany ( AfD) with 10.5% followed the political powers – as well as the neoliberal Liberal Democratic Party (13.2%). The robot disappeared before the numbers for the other parts were displayed.

Facebook and Twitter users, including lawmakers and AfD supporters and apparent bots, were quick to jump on the baseless suggestion that the incident revealed the broadcaster’s intention to rig an election . “Why was there an incident? The puppets were informed of the election results weeks ago – they just melted away too soon!” wrote a user.

‘ARD already has the first projected results (from 22 seconds). Otherwise everything is going according to the rules of # BTW21, ”Pazderski wrote. # BTW21 refers to the Bundestagswahl 2021, or the German elections 2021

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Berlin state lawmaker Georg Pazderski, who is chairman of the Berlin faction of the AfD, shared the clip on Twitter which has been viewed over 60,000 times. He also shared a screenshot on Facebook showing the headline of the incident in a digital tabloid article. Bild, Germany’s largest newspaper.

“Embarrassing slippage of public broadcasters!” Pazderski began in his Facebook post on Saturday morning, before sharing the details of Das Erste’s mistake. He then mistakenly suggested that the ARD, which requires German residents to pay a fee, knew of the election results before the polls opened. “Those who have always doubted the objectivity of reporting on ‘mandatory tariff’ television see it once again confirmed! They already know today what German citizens will vote for on Sunday! Congratulations on these extraordinary skills!”

Pazderski changed his Facebook post later today, removing his first line on how “embarrassing” the incident was.

He added at the end of the post: “A word of advice for next time: if a test is needed, please mark it as such and do not show fictitious numbers, otherwise it could be considered deliberate election interference. And we won’t. I don’t even want to think about it. “

On Twitter, Bundestag lawmaker Joana Cotar, who is also on the AfD’s federal executive committee, retweeted her colleague’s tweet about the blunder and wrote: “But on Sunday you will have to change the numbers so that it does not be not so visible … “

Screenshot of the tweet

Recent election polls suggest that the AfD, which is the largest opposition party in the Bundestag, struggled to gain traction ahead of election day – though it is still expected to garner a significant number of votes. seats.

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But Das Erste and ARD – an umbrella organization of German regional public broadcasters that work on TV channels like Das Erste – insisted it was a mistake in a technical test gone awry. .

“During today’s edition of @GefragtGejagt, a ticker with fictitious projected numbers was seen for a few seconds. It was a test that was accidentally broadcast. read in Das Erste’s tweet on Friday night.

“Technical pan”: what did ARD say?

In a statement to TUSEN, the ARD confirmed that the clip shared by Pazderski on Twitter was shown on Friday’s episode of “Gefragt – Gejagt”.

“This was a technical test of the election robot by the Central Broadcasting Service (ZSL) in preparation for Sunday’s election and was to be performed on an inactive broadcast transmission, but was broadcast due to a switching error. “, said the spokesperson for the ARD.

Many on social media, across various political affiliations, have questioned why the public broadcaster didn’t use filler text for percentages, such as XX% or 00%. When asked by TUSEN why specific percentages were used, ARD again emphasized that the numbers were “fictitious”.

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“Unfortunately, I don’t know why the ZSL employee chose concrete numbers. Maybe it was to make him as realistic as possible in the test,” said the ARD spokesperson.

“We apologized on social media for the technical glitch immediately after the broadcast. It was an unfortunate switching error and should in no way affect confidence in the election and its results.”

How are election results determined?

The German electoral system is a form of proportional representation – and means that each voter gets two votes. One is for their local representative in Parliament, or Bundestag, and the other for a political party, the latter determining the strengths of each party in the Bundestag.

Election polling stations open Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Postal ballots must also be received before 6 p.m. To do so sooner would violate German electoral law.

Election projections are revealed after the first ballots have been counted – and are updated as the vote count continues into the early hours of the morning. Provisional results are usually announced the next morning by the Bundeswahlleiter (Federal Returning Officer), Germany’s top official responsible for overseeing the elections.

The release of official results tends to take several weeks longer. The 2017 election results were released 18 days after the polls closed.

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