A comprehensive guide to elections in Germany

It has been said that the Germans are sometimes so organized that chaos reigns. The German electoral system is no exception. It’s so c...


It has been said that the Germans are sometimes so organized that chaos reigns. The German electoral system is no exception. It’s so complex that even a lot of Germans don’t understand it.

Here is a brief introduction.

Not exactly. Unlike the United States, voters do not directly elect their head of government. Rather, they vote for representatives in Parliament, who will choose the next chancellor, but only after forming a government. More on that later.

The main parties declare who they would choose as chancellor, so that Germans who go to the polls now know who they are voting for. This year, the candidates most likely to become chancellor are Olaf Scholz social democrats or Armin Laschet Christian Democrats. Annalena baerbock, a Green, has an external chance.

Any German citizen aged 18 or over. They do not need to register first.

Everyone who goes to the polls today has two votes. The first vote is for a candidate to be the local representative for the district. The second vote is for a party. Voters can and often do split their votes. For example, one person could vote for a Social Democrat as a local member of Parliament, and a second vote for the Christian Democrats as a party.

Parliament has 598 members, but could end up with many more due to a quirk in the system. The best voter in each constituency automatically obtains a seat in Parliament. These candidates represent half of the deputies. The remaining seats are allocated based on the number of second votes each party obtains.

But parties can be allocated additional seats in a formula designed to ensure that each faction in parliament has a delegation that faithfully reflects their national support. Parliament could therefore easily end up with 700 deputies.

Also: a party that votes less than 5% gets no seat.

It is very unlikely that a party will end up with a majority in Parliament. The party which obtains the most votes must then attempt to form a government by agreeing to a coalition with other parties. It has become mathematically more difficult due to the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany party and the far-left Linke party.

Traditional parties have ruled out coalitions with either party because of their extreme positions. But it will be a struggle for the remaining parties to find sufficient common ground to concoct a majority. The process could take months.

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Newsrust - US Top News: A comprehensive guide to elections in Germany
A comprehensive guide to elections in Germany
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