Elections in Germany

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Elections in Germany include elections to the Bundestag (which is sometimes considered to be the lower house of the federal parliament), the Landtags of the various states, and local elections.

Several articles in several parts of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany govern elections and establish constitutional requirements such as the secret ballot, and requirement that all elections be conducted in a free and fair manner. The Basic Law also requires that the federal legislature enact detailed federal laws to govern elections; electoral law(s). One such article is Article 38 which is regarding the election of deputies in the federal Bundestag. Article 38.2 of the Basic Law establishes universal suffrage: "Any person who has attained the age of eighteen shall be entitled to vote; any person who has attained the age of majority may be elected."

German federal elections are for all members of the Bundestag, which in turn determines who is the Chancellor of Germany. Federal elections were held in 2009 and in 2013.

German elections since 1949[edit]

Federal Republic of Germany[edit]

Election system[edit]

The German political system

Federal elections are conducted approximately every four years, resulting from the constitutional requirement for elections to be held 46 to 48 months after the assembly of the Bundestag.[1] Elections can be held earlier in exceptional constitutional circumstances: for example, were the Chancellor to lose a vote of confidence in the Bundestag, then, during a grace period before the Bundestag can vote in a replacement Chancellor, the Chancellor could request the Federal President to dissolve the Bundestag and hold elections. Should the Bundestag be dismissed before the four-year period has ended, elections must be held within 100 days. The exact date of the election is chosen by the President[2] and must be a Sunday or public holiday.

German nationals over the age of 18 who have resided in Germany for at least three months are eligible to vote. Eligibility for candidacy is essentially the same.

The federal legislature in Germany has a one chamber parliament—the Bundestag (Federal Diet); the Bundesrat (Federal Council) represents the regions and is not considered a chamber as its members are not elected. The Bundestag is elected using a mixed member proportional system. Voters have two votes: with their first they elect a member of Bundestag for their constituency, with the second they vote for a party. Subject to a party obtaining a minimum threshold vote, the overall seat assignment in the Bundestag is proportionally distributed according to the second (party) votes. A party who wins more districts in a given state than it is entitled to according to the number of party votes it received in that state keeps these "overhang" seats.

The Bundestag has 598 nominal members, elected for a four-year term. Half, 299 members, are elected in single-member constituencies by first-past-the-post voting, while a further 299 members are allocated from party lists to achieve a proportional distribution in the legislature, conducted according to a form of proportional representation called the Mixed member proportional representation system (MMP). Voters vote once for a constituency representative, and a second time for a party, and the lists are used to make the party balances match the distribution of second votes. Overhang seats may add to the nominal number of 598 members: for example, in the 2009 federal election there were 24 overhang seats, giving a total of 622 seats. This is caused by larger parties winning additional single-member constituencies above the totals determined by their proportional party vote.

Germany has a multi-party system with two strong parties and some other third parties also represented in the Bundestag. Since 1990, five parties (counting the CDU and CSU as one) have been represented in the Bundestag.

In 2008, some modifications to the electoral system were required under an order of the Federal Constitutional Court. The court had found that a provision in the Federal Election Law by which it was possible for a party to experience a negative vote weight, thus losing seats due to more votes, violated the constitutional guarantee of the electoral system being equal and direct.[3]

The court allowed three years to amend the law. Accordingly, the 2009 federal election was allowed to proceed under the previous system. The changes were due by 30 June 2011, but appropriate legislation was not completed by that deadline. A new electoral law was enacted in late 2011, but declared unconstitutional once again by the Federal Constitutional Court upon lawsuits from the opposition parties and a group of some 4,000 private citizens.[4]

Finally, four of the five factions in the Bundestag agreed on an electoral reform whereby the number of seats in the Bundestag will be increased as much as necessary to ensure that any overhang seats are compensated through apportioned leveling seats, to ensure full proportionality according to the political party's share of party votes at the national level.[5] The Bundestag approved and enacted the new electoral reform in February 2013.[6]

List of federal election results[edit]

German parliamentary election results
Voter turnout in German federal elections (percentage)

State elections in the Federal Republic of Germany[edit]

State elections are conducted under various rules set by the Länder (states). In general they are conducted according to some form of party-list proportional representation, either the same as the federal system or some simplified version. The election period is generally four to five years, and the dates of elections vary from state to state.

Baden-Württemberg state election results[edit]

Bavaria state election results[edit]

Berlin state election results[edit]

Brandenburg state election results[edit]

Bremen state election results[edit]

Hamburg state election results[edit]

Hesse state election results[edit]

Lower Saxony state election results[edit]

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state election results[edit]

North Rhine-Westphalia state election results[edit]

Rhineland-Palatinate state election results[edit]

Saarland state election results[edit]

Saxony state election results[edit]

Saxony-Anhalt state election results[edit]

Schleswig-Holstein state election results[edit]

Thuringia state election results[edit]

German Democratic Republic[edit]

See: Politics of East Germany

In the German Democratic Republic, elections to the Volkskammer were effectively controlled by the Socialist Unity Party of Germany and state hierarchy, even though multiple parties existed pro forma. The 18 March 1990 election were the first free ones held in the GDR, producing a government whose major mandate was to negotiate an end to itself and its state.

German elections 1871 to 1945[edit]

From the unification of Germany under Emperor Wilhelm I in 1871 to the Nazi accession to power and the abolition of elections following the Enabling Act of 1933, elections were held to the German Reichstag or "Imperial Assembly", which supplanted its namesake, the Reichstag of the Norddeutscher Bund. The Reichstag could be dissolved by the Kaiser or, after the abdication of Wilhelm II in 1918, the Reichspräsident. With the Weimar Republic's Constitution of 1919, the voting system changed from single-member constituencies to proportional representation. The election age was reduced to 20 years of age. Women's suffrage had already been established by a new electoral law in 1918 following the November Revolution of that year.

The German election in 1933 was the ninth and last (mostly) free election. In the Third Reich, several elections were conducted leading to unanimous support of the Nazi Party because other parties were dissolved or banned.

Imperial elections[edit]

Weimar Republic elections[edit]

Elections in Nazi Germany[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Art. 39 Grundgesetz". Grundgesetz Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Bundesministerium der Justiz. 19 March 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2009. 
  2. ^ "§16 Bundeswahlgesetz". Bundeswahlgesetz Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Bundesministerium der Justiz. 3 June 2008. Retrieved 5 June 2009. 
  3. ^ "Federal Constitutional Court decision on the Federal Election Law". Bverfg.de. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  4. ^ Decision of the Federal Constitutional Court. 25 July 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  5. ^ Bill amending the Federal Election Law. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  6. ^ ZEIT ONLINE GmbH, Hamburg, Germany (22 February 2013). "Bundestag: Deutschland hat ein neues Wahlrecht | ZEIT ONLINE". Zeit.de. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]