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On sunday the german general election is happening, so I thought I make a thread here.

importance

This is an election for the national parliament, the Bundestag. The Bundestag then goes on to elect the government including the chancellor, the person most closely in the role of the nations leader. The government including chancellor is elected by the Bundestag, not directly by the people (like the president is in the USA, Russia or France).

To elect the governement, some parties that won seats in the parliament usually form a coalition, that besides deciding the government, also find an agreement on some political issues of importance. The chancellor usually is selected from the party with the most seats, but that is not a set rule. The government has to be elected by 50%+1 seats in the parliament.

side note: We also have a president, but in germany he is mostly representative and has near to no real power. He is also not elected directly by the people.

election rules

Germany has some of the most complicated election rules, so I give a short breakdown:

  • every voter has two votes
  • first vote decides the local representative called Direktmandat/direct mandate (majority of votes in that district, that is basically what US, UK, Japan and others have as only vote)
  • second vote decides the proportion of seats the party gains
  • if a party wins more direct mandates than they would be allocated via the second vote, the number of seats in the whole parliament is inflated, until they get so much seats for second vote, as they won with the first one already, this results in more seats for other parties as well, the system is called Ausgleichsmandate/leveling seats
  • a party must win at least 5% of the second vote nationally or at least 3 direct mandates, or they will be excluded from gaining seats through second vote (although they may keep direct mandates, if they won only one or two, happened before to the left, that had for four years only two seats)
  • a party that wins at least 0.5% of the vote gains public financing for two years, which means they get money from the state for each vote they get and for donations

There is also another rule, that in the parliament two parties that are *not* running in the same provinces can form a fraction together and will be counted in the parliament practically as one party. This was only ever done by the CDU and CSU.

situation

In the last election seven parties made it into the Bundestag (but as CDU and CSU always form an alliance in the parliament, it is often referred to as six):

  • CDU/CSU: conservative party (like Democrats in the US), strongest party in the elections of the past one and a half decade
  • SPD: social democrats, coalition partner in the government
  • AfD: conservative-right, their position is a bit hard to describe, except it is most often the opposite of what the government does (their name is literally 'alternative for germany)
  • FDP: liberals and strong pro market
  • the Left: well, left-wing party
  • the Greens: well, green party

Other parties that may be of some importance:

  • Volt: Volt is a new party founded as an european party, but has national sections as currently you have to have national parties to participate in elections
  • free voters: kind of a more locally oriented, somewhat conservative/liberal party, they gained importance in southern provines
  • the PARTEI: PARTEI is literally translated party, they are a satirical party that has currently two representatives in european parliament as many vote for them if fed up with the current parties
  • ödp: another green party
  • animal protection: well, their name says it
  • pirate party: the pirates have some successes throughout europe (including one german representative and more from other countries in the european parliament), they are a party focussed on political issues influencing digital topics
  • NPD: the right wingers (well, they are basically Nazis, but avoid to be seen as such, they nearly dodged becoming illegal in the past)
  • MLPD/DKP: marxist/communist parties
  • die Basis: they are a party formed around protest against the measurements against COVID-19, some members openly deny the existence of the virus or opposing vaccines
  • humanist party: they are based in science and humanism, more concretely secular humanism

Our chancellor was Angela Merkel since 2005 (16 years), but she already has announced to step back after the election, so in either case we get a new chancellor. The candidates of the free biggest parties are:

Angela Merkel is from the CDU, and CDU/CSU were the strongest fraction in the past, but polls show them currently much weaker. The current government is formed as an coalition between CDU/CSU and SPD.

The current polling situation is very bad for CDU/CSU, they are possibly losing the majority. CDU/CSU, SPD and Greens are currently polling around 20%, everyone of them reaching the top of the polls in the last months. The following graphs shows the average of the polling institutes over time (Union=CDU/CSU, Linke=Left, Grüne=Greens).

47 parties are trying to get elected, 40 are at least in some provinces electable via second vote (some are having only in some districts a candidate for first vote).

major topics

The most major topic is climate change, given more importance with the floodings in middle europe in summer, which lead to nearly 200 deaths in germany alone and massive destroyed buildings. As this is basically the topic of the Greens, they are in a much better position than last election.

Behind that in polls usually on second and third place in the eyes of the public are pensions/social issues and economy/jobs. In social issues usually the SPD or the Left is seen most competent, in economy the CDU/CSU or FDP.

With the COVID-crisis the issue of health is also important.

And as always migration is also an important topic for a lot of people.

last election (2017)

The results of the last election is as follows. I only show results from the second vote, as this is the most relevant. I also lump together CDU and CSU, as this is usually done and is the factual outcome.

party result seats notes
CDU/CSU 32.9% (CDU: 26.8%, CSU: 6.2%) 246 (CDU: 200, CSU: 46) about 8.6% loss compared to 2013
SPD 20.5% 153 about 5.2% loss compared to 2013
AfD 12.6% 94 nearly 8% more than 2013
FDP 10.7% 80 nearly 6% more than 2013
the Left 9.2% 69
the Greens 8.9% 67
free voters 1.0% -
the PARTEI 1.0% -
animal protection
0.8% -

Other parties got less than 0.5%, so I am excluding them here.

As you can see, the last election already resulted in a major loss for the parties forming the government (CDU/CSU+SPD), but they still had more than 50% of the seats and made a new government coalition.

So, what do you think. Are you interested in this election? Which party will win in your opinion?



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