Germany Elections on September 26 – How citizens cast 2 votes in a single election – Explained

The German elections have a complex voting system wherein the German voters get two votes per ballot. Explained: How citizens cast 2 votes in a single election.

Created On: Sep 21, 2021 14:36 IST
German Flag, Source: Reuters
German Flag, Source: Reuters

German election results 2021 on September 26 will determine who will succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel after being in power for 16 years. Merkel will not be running in the 2021 German Elections. In the most open race in decades for the lower house of parliament known as Bundestag, the three leading parties are: the Centre-right Christian Democrats, the Centre-left Social Democrats, and the Greens.

Out of 83 million citizens, approximately 60.4 million German citizens aged 18 and above will be eligible to vote. Approximately 2.8 million German citizens will vote for the first time in life. Polls will open from 8am to 6 pm (6am GMT to 4pm GMT) on September 26. All votes will be counted by Monday, September 27. Interestingly, the German elections have a complex voting system wherein the German voters get two votes per ballot.

How does German Election work?

The 2021 German Elections on September 26, 2021, will elect the members of the 20th Bundestag, the lower house of parliament for a 4-year-term. Then the Chancellor will be elected.

Germany applies the mixed-member proportional representation system which uses a system of proportional representation combined with elements of first-past-the-post voting. The Bundestag has 598 members who are elected for a 4-year-term. These seats are distributed between the 16 German states in proportion to the number of eligible voters in the State.

Each voter gets two votes per ballot: the first vote is a constituency vote and the second vote is a party-list vote. The first votes decide in the election of 299 members in single-member constituencies by first-past-the-post voting. The second votes help in allocating a proportional number of seats for parties, first in the states and then in the Bundestag. These seats are allocated using the Sainte-Lague method.

If a party wins fewer constituency votes (first votes share) in a state than it is entitled as per its party list vote (second votes share), then it receives additional seats from the relevant state list.

If a party wins more constituency votes (first votes share) in a state than it is entitled as per its party list vote (second votes share), it creates a number of overhang seats. In this case, other parties receive compensation seats. That is why, the Bundestag usually has more than 598 members such as the 19th (current) Bundestag had 709 seats, 598 regular seats and 111 overhand (compensation) seats.

How are members elected to Bundestag?

In order for a party to be elected to the Bundestag, it has to win at least 5 per cent of the second votes nationwide or win three single-member constituencies via first votes. This threshold keeps the small parties from entering the Parliament.

Currently, the Bundestag represents 6 parties: Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right CDU and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), the Left Party, the Greens, and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Who elects Chancellor in Germany?

In Germany, the Chancellor is the Head of the Government. The Chancellor is not directly elected, unlike the US Presidential elections. The process to elect the Chancellor in Germany can take up to weeks or months. As per the polls, the negotiations will be complicated this time. No single party is expected to reach a parliamentary majority this time. Therefore, the election results will help to determine what coalition governments could be possible.

A detailed coalition agreement will be expected to be produced which will need approval in votes by party congresses or even a ballot. Once the Coalition government is ready, the President of Germany will nominate a candidate for Chancellor to the Bundestag. The candidate does not have to be a member of parliament. The candidate will require a majority of all members to be elected as Chancellor.

Until the new government takes charge, the outgoing Chancellor (in this case Chancellor Angela Merkel) will stay on in caretaker capacity.

Three parties have fielded candidates to be Chancellor: Armin Laschet for the Centre-right Christian Democrats, Olaf Scholz for the Centre-left Social Democrats, and Annalena Baerbock for the Greens.

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