Germany’s electoral system combines directly elected members of parliament with proportional representation.


German bond tag. Image: File.

Germany’s complex electoral system combines the “win-win” approach of Britain and the United States with a system of proportional representation that allows for smaller parties.

The country’s bundstag could grow to the size of the lower house, which has never been seen before Sunday’s election, thanks to a complex voting system that combines directly elected MPs with proportional representation.

Voters make two crosses on the ballot paper.

When German voters enter the polling booth, they make two crosses on the ballot paper – one for the direct representative in their local district, the other for the party of their choice.

The first vote is to ensure that each of Germany’s 299 districts is represented in the Bundestag, while the second vote determines how many seats each party will eventually win in parliament.

Before election day, parties write “candidate lists” in every 16 states. The top names have the biggest chance of winning a seat.

The party that gets the most votes has to send the most legislators to the lower house.

Overhang Seats –

For example, if a party wins three direct seats by the first vote but is eligible for a total of 10 seats by the second vote, seven more names on the party list are also given seats.

A complication arises when direct and party votes go out of balance as voters “distribute” their ballots.

When a party wins more seats directly than its right to vote, it is given extra seats anyway. These are called “overhang” seats.

As a result, the Bundestag could expand beyond its minimum size of 598 seats. Since the 2017 election, there have been 709 legislators in the chamber – a figure that could be even higher.

An even bigger parliament could emerge this year as a large number of voters are expected to cast their ballots.

– Most women, most parties –

60.4 million people over the age of 18 are eligible to vote for the next government in the EU’s most populous country and its largest economy. There are 31.2 million and 29.2 million female voters, respectively.

There will be about 2.8 million first-time voters on Sunday.

Four years ago, voter turnout was 76.2 percent, about five points higher than in 2013 and higher than in many other Western democracies.

This year, 33% of Bundestag’s candidates, who ultimately elect a chancellor, are women – a post-war record.

A large 47 parties are fielding candidates – the second first.

5% barrier

Parties that score less than 5% of the second vote are completely out of Parliament. Its purpose is to prevent excessive political fragmentation and potentially to deter extremist parties.

The far-left Dylanke party is tampering with the elections by five per cent of the time and its success or failure could be a key factor in post-election coalition mathematics.

Once polling booths close at 1600 GMT, the question is whether any coalition of parties has an absolute majority to elect a chancellor.

Election 2017 results

Here are the situations after the 2017 elections:

Christian Democratic Union (CDU) / Christian Social Union (CSU): 32.9% – 246 seats.

Social Democratic Party (SPD): 20.5% – 153 seats.

Alternative for Germany (AFD): 12.6% – 94 seats.

Free Democrats (FDP): 10.7% – 80 seats.

Dialink: 9.2% – 69 seats.

Green: 8.9% – 67 seats.

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