Understanding the elections in Germany

In order to understand politics and elections in Germany, the following questions will be studied

I. The role of the chancellor and the parliament.
II. The principle of elections in Germany.

See also: Germany: Geography and Facts

I. The Chancellor is elected by the Bundestag

The German chancellor is the most powerful political figure in Germany, in the same way as the President in France or the Prime Minister in England.

The chancellor is elected by an absolute majority of all members of parliament.

The Bundestag

The parliament is the Bundestag (Bund: the federation, Tag: the day, the assembly)

The parties represented in the Bundestag are CDU/CSU, FDP, SPD, die Linke and die Grüne.

The CDU and CSU parties have almost the same political ideas, they are considered together. The only difference is that the CSU is only present in Bavaria, while the CDU is present everywhere except in Bavaria. They form a “Fraktion” in the Bundestag.

Parties not represented in the Bundestag are Piraten, AD, NPD, etc.

II. Principle of elections in Germany

1. The elections
Elections are held every four years.

It is a proportional electoral system. The objective is to have an assembly with groups of elected representatives whose numbers are proportional to the electorate.

However, this system is called mixed, because it mixes two methods. Each elector gives two votes:

—There are 299 electoral districts.
—Each constituency elects two deputies.
-In principle, therefore, there are 598 deputy seats to be filled.
2. The vote
During the voting process, each elector casts two votes at the same time.

The first vote elects deputies, according to a majority technique.

In each constituency, a deputy is elected (as in France) in a single round. The one who gets the most votes is elected (relative majority).
The second vote elects deputies, according to a proportional technique.

The second vote is a list vote. One vote for a list of candidates, who belong to a party. It is this second vote that is strongly predominant, it is this one that distributes the seats. All the seats are distributed according to the proportion of this “second vote”.
3. The results
Each party is entitled to as many seats as it results in the election. For example, a party that gets one third of the vote is entitled to one third of the seats.

There is, however, a threshold: a minimum percentage of votes that a party must achieve in order to get seats. The threshold is set at 5% of the votes. “Fünf-Prozent-Sperrklausel” (Klause: clause, Super: dam, Fünf: five)

A party that does not obtain 5% in the elections will not be represented in parliament except in special cases: if it obtains at least 3 direct mandates.

Additional deputies: in some cases, the first vote can bring more deputies into parliament. Directly elected members of parliament, but whose list was not retained by the second vote, still get a seat in the Bundestag. Thus, in 2013, there were 622 deputies in the Bundestag parliament, or 24 additional deputies.

In conclusion, in Germany there is a personalized proportional electoral system. “Personalized Verhältniswahl” (Wahl: election).