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Germany votes on Sunday September 26 to renew the members of the Bundestag. These general elections should make it possible to designate Angela Merkel’s successor. After four terms and 16 years at the head of the chancellery, the European leader is taking her bow.
Who to succeed Angela Merkel? This is what is at stake in the German general elections on Sunday 26 September.
But we will have to wait before knowing the final result of this historic election – which will mark the end of Angela Merkel’s sixteen years at the head of the chancellery – and the name of the future head of government of the leading European economic power.
Blame it on a particular voting system and a complex set of alliances that have dominated the German political landscape for decades. Here’s a guide to getting it all figured out in the September 26 vote.
Who is elected on Sunday? The Germans do not vote directly for the future chancellor. They will elect the deputies who will make up the Bundestag, that is to say the German equivalent of the National Assembly. It is a bit the equivalent of the French legislative.
But unlike France, the Germans do not know in advance how many deputies will be appointed at the end of the ballot. In theory, the Bundestag is planned for 598 elected… but, since 2002, there are always more, and the last record, 709 in 2017, should be pulverized this time. There could, in fact, be more than 800, or even nearly 1,000. Why? This is one of the main consequences of the very complex German voting system.
How do we vote? German voters each have two votes. The first is used to designate the representative of his constituency following a uninominal vote by simple majority. This is how 299 deputies are elected, guaranteed to have a seat in the future Bundestag.
Voters vote in parallel a second time for a list at the national level. It is this vote that counts the most: it fixes the proportional distribution of the total number of seats in the Bundestag between the different parties which obtained more than 5% of the votes.
It is from this proportional result that follows the number of elected representatives per Land that each party can in theory send to the Bundestag. But here it is: it happens that certain parties obtain more deputies than what they are entitled to according to the results of the vote for the national lists.
Why ? Quite simply because they have more candidates elected thanks to the first past the post vote by constituency. Candidates from a party can, for example, win eight constituencies in a Land and be entitled to only five deputies according to the distribution made at the end of the national vote. Ultimately, however, this party will be able to send eight elected members to the Bundestag.
A situation which may surprise but which is more frequent than one might imagine: during the elections in 2017, 13 Länder, out of the 16 in Germany, saw certain parties – mainly the SPD and the CDU – send more elected to the Bundestag by first past the post.
To compensate for this surplus of deputies which distorts the balance of power set by the proportional vote, the cheated parties are given additional mandates to restore the balance. Hence the inflation of elected officials …
Who is showing up? Forty-seven parties present 6,211 candidates, either on lists or individually in constituencies, across Germany.
The six main parties which hope to share the seats in the Bundestag are the two great historical parties – the CDU (center right) and the SPD (center left) -, the environmentalists of the Greens, the far-right populist movement Alternative für Deutschland ( AfD), the liberals of the FDP and the radical left party Die Linke.
Some parties only run in one Land, such as the Gartenpartei – literally the Gardeners Party – which has candidates only in Saxony-Anhalt or the European Love Party which focuses on Rhineland-North. North Westphalia.
This year, a party openly claiming to be Nazi is running candidates in two Länders, Saxony and Bavaria. The Third Weg (Third Way) – a thinly veiled reference to the Third Reich – which does not hide its anti-Semitism and racism, has attracted a lot of attention with its campaign posters calling for “hanging” green candidates.
When will we know the name of Angela Merkel’s successor? The first results will fall from 6 p.m. Sunday, September 26. They will make it possible to know which party is in the lead at the end of the ballot.
So begins for this training, the great waltz of negotiations to try to build a coalition which will be the foundation of the future government. Unless a party obtains an absolute majority at the end of the elections, which has not happened since 1961.
These negotiations can go on. Angela Merkel’s CDU took 117 days to form a government after the 2017 elections.
The parties called upon to govern together agree on the name of the future chancellor. The latter is presented, finally, in front of the new Bundestag which must elect him officially.
At the moment, the main candidates for this coveted post are: Olaf Scholz for the SPD, Armin Laschet, supported by the CDU and the CSU, Annalena Baerbock for the Greens, and Christian Lindner who wears the colors of the FDP liberals . The AfD presents a duo formed by Tino Chrupalla and Alice Weidel.