Centre-left SPD candidate Franziska Giffey wins Berlin mayoral race

Ms Franziska Giffey won 21.4 per cent of the vote to become the mayor of Berlin. PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN (AFP) - Germany's centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) have scored a bonus election win in Berlin on top of their narrow victory in the national election, preliminary results showed on Monday (Sept 27).

Ms Franziska Giffey, the SPD candidate to be the mayor of Berlin, won 21.4 per cent of the vote, beating rival candidates from the Green party on 18.9 per cent and the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) on 18.1 per cent.

Opinion polls had shown Ms Giffey running neck-and-neck with the Greens' Ms Bettina Jarasch.

Ms 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".

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 Mueller decided not to run again this time.

Ms 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Berlin's Free University later rescinded Ms Giffey's PhD title - often seen as an important bona fide in German politics - after a review of her 2009 doctoral thesis.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 per cent of Berliners voted yes in the referendum, preliminary results showed, though the result is not binding.

Residents in the capital have become increasingly frustrated with rising housing costs, as the city's attractiveness to outsiders has grown in recent years.

Ms Giffey has said she is against the expropriation push.

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