The German federal election is approaching. Hence I figured a thread with some basic facts and figures about the upcoming election in Germany might be useful. So without further ado:
When was the previous federal election and what was its outcome?
The previous election for the Bundestag happened in 2013. The winner of that election was the CDU/CSU with Merkel at its head. The CDU/CSU was 5 seats short of an absolute majority in parliament so it had to enter into a coalition government. Previously it had done so with the business-friendly FDP, unfortunately for the FDP it did not qualify to enter into the Bundestag. The CDU/CSU thus entered into a grand coalition with the SPD. This coalition has lasted its full term.
When is the election and what are other important dates with respect to it?
The election will take place on September 24. Other important dates are:
May 14: There were local elections in Germany's most populous land (akin to an American state) which can be regarded as a bit of a bellwether for the party's contesting the election. More on this below.
June 19: Party applications due.
July 7: Parties that may take part in the election are announced.
July 17: Parties must present which candidates will be running in which constituency. A list of candidates for the party vote on the second half of the ballot must also be submitted.
August 13: Campaigning officially begins.
September 25: It should become clear exactly which persons will enter the Bundestag.
October 24: The newly elected Bundestag convenes, afterwards comes the tricky work of coalition negotiations, followed by a secret ballot to elect the next chancellor.
November 24: Deadline to challenge the election result.
For more and other important dates:
German Elections 2017: a timeline | All media content | DW.COM | 10.05.2017
Which are the most important parties and where can I find poll results?
The most important parties contesting the election are as follows: CDU/CSU, SDP, Grünen (Greens), Linke (Left), FDP and AfD.
It should be noted that the CDU/CSU is a rather strange beast as it is, pretty much, a coalition of a national party (the CDU) and a more regional party, the CSU. The CSU is the leading party in Bavaria.
Polling results can be found here:
Basic information about the parties can be found here:
Tell me more about the local elections in Germany's most populous Land.
Germany's most populous Land is Nordrhein-Westfalen or North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). NRW has a total of 18 million inhabitants, of which 13 million were allowed to vote. By comparison, there will be around 61.5 million Germans eligible to vote in the upcoming federal election. Winning here is thus a big deal. In fact, the local election results here in 2005 forced a snap federal election that year - which lead to Merkel's first term as chancellor.
Historically NRW has been a stronghold of the SPD. Unfortunately for the SPD, they were not the biggest party in this year's local elections. The CDU managed to get 33% of the vote whereas the SPD got 31.5% of the vote according to official projections at the moment of writing. The FDP came in third with 12.6% of the vote. Fourth came AfD with 7.7% of the vote. Fifth the Greens with 6.2% of the vote. It is thus far unclear whether the Left party will enter NRW's parliament as the official projections put them just below the threshold for doing so, namely at 4.8%.
What to make of this then? German media are, essentially, stating that momentum is with the CDU. There has also been some talk, if I recall correctly, of Martin Schulz' position within the SDP becoming less than certain if the election went badly for the SDP as it seems to have gone. Schulz is the leader of the SDP. The FDP seems to be enjoying somewhat of a resurgence whereas German media suggest that the latest result for the AfD is in line with a downward trend in its popularity. This was also once one of the core constituencies of the Greens, so this is not good news for them either at all.
In short, things are looking good for the CDU and the FDP, not necessarily so for the rest.
Opinion: Time to risk something new | Germany | DW.COM | 14.05.2017
The fight for Germany begins here | Germany | DW.COM | 14.05.2017
What's Germany's electoral system like?
I will let the good folks at Der Spiegel speak for me, as they explain it better than I possibly could:
Extremely short and rather inaccurate version: 5% threshold to get into parliament. Voter has 2 votes: One for a candidate running in a district (of which there are 299), second is for a party on a national level where it's a system of proportional representation. Complicated stuff can then lead to more seats being added to the Bundestag than 598.every voter gets two votes. The first allows voters to choose their candidate of choice in their district. The second is for the party they support. Every candidate who wins in one of the country's 299 districts -- based on voters' first votes -- automatically gets a seat in parliament. This means that every district sends a lawmaker to Berlin.
The rest of the Bundestag's base number of 598 seats is allocated based on the percentage of the vote received nationwide -- based on voters' second votes. Only parties that surpass the five percent threshold are allowed to send representatives to Berlin based on the second-vote count. It is this percentage that will be announced on election night and which determines the ultimate make-up of parliament. The five percent threshold is intended to prevent fragmentation and to keep extremist parties like the National Democratic Party (NPD) from entering into parliament.
The Infamous 'Überhangmandate'
The representatives that enter parliament as a result of vote percentages (as opposed to having received a "direct mandate" from the first vote) come off the parties' candidate lists. Each party has a list for each state. A party's state-by-state result, in combination with the size of each state, helps determine where the additional candidates are drawn from.
If everyone in the country cast both of their votes for the same party, there would be no problem whatsoever. But they don't.
Imagine that the Left Party in Saxony wins eight districts on the basis of the first votes. But its percentage based on second votes was only enough to guarantee the party six seats in Berlin. Germany's election law guarantees all district winners a seat in the Bundestag. The result would be two so-called "Überhangmandate" or "overhang mandates."
That, though, would skew the share of seats in parliament based on the percentage of the vote received via the second vote. It is a real problem; in 2009, the Christian Democrats had 21 such "Überhangmandate." It is this skewing that led the Constitutional Court to declare Germany's election system unconstitutional.
The new system grants all other parties additional seats to compensate -- so-called "Ausgleichmandate" -- so that each party's share of seats in parliament is consistent with the number of second votes it received. This means, of course that the number of representatives in the Bundestag can be much higher than the 598 foreseen. Indeed, the new law means it could theoretically swell to up to 800 members. Not surprisingly, every new legislative period begins with a construction crew moving, removing or adding seats on the plenary floor in the Reichstag.
Note that there are projected to be 61.5 million eligible voters.
Source: German Election System Explained - SPIEGEL ONLINE
See also: http://www.economist.com/blogs/econo...ist-explains-3