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An era that has lasted 16 years is about to come to an end in Germany.
This Sunday, September 26, federal elections are held that will mark the end of Angela Merkel at the head of the government.
And for the first time in 15 years, an opinion poll earlier this month gave the center left an advantage on the Chancellor’s Conservatives.
Among all the uncertainty that election results bring, only one thing is clear: whoever wins will have to form a coalition government.
It is anticipated that up to three parties could win enough seats in the Bundestag to do so and elect the next chancellor.
We present a simple guide to understand what exactly the Germans choose and what is the procedure that is followed until the government is formed.
What is voted?
Germans will go to the polls to elect the lower house of the federal Parliament, the Bundestag.
Although in-person voting takes place that day, voting by mail has already begun.
Some 60.4 million Germans over the age of 18 they can vote.
The Bundestag consists of at least 598 seats, and generally more.
Although the winning party will be known the night of the elections, the composition of the next government will take longer, since it is done when the winner manages to form alliances with other parties that allow him to complete the absolute majoritya.
That means that the name of the next chancellor is not known until some time later.
How is the chancellor chosen?
Normally, it is the party of the coalition that has the most seats that elects the chancellor.
But coalition building takes time, as parties must agree and reach commitments and agreements to appoint ministers.
When agreement is reached on all these issues, the members of the new Parliament vote to approve the new chancellor.
Which parties have more chances?
The latest opinion polls point to three parties likely to win enough seats to lead a coalition government and elect the next chancellor.
- Christian Democratic Union (CDU in German)
Merkel’s conservative CDU has dominated German politics for decades alongside her sister party in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union (CSU).
His natural successor, Armin Laschet, the president of the CDU, left a few months ago as the favorite to become the new German leader, but his campaign has plummeted in recent weeks.
In large part, his bad time is due to mistakes that have affected your credibilityas a candidate.
In July, for example, he had to apologize after he was seen laughing out loud on a visit to the area affected by severe flooding.
Laschet, 60, has been the leader of Germany’s most populous region, North Rhine Westphalia since 2017, and has been described as a candidate close to Merkel and who, above all, could give continuity to a good part of her center-right policies. .
Despite leading the party that has ruled Germany since 2005, in polls on credibility, sympathy and competition, Laschet ranks behind Social Democrat Olaf Scholz.
- Game SWestern Democrat (SPD)
The center-left SPD has been part of the governing coalition with the Conservatives and is tied at the polls with them.
The novelty is that, for the first time in 15 years, a poll put the party ahead of the CDU.
Olaf ScholzGermany’s finance minister is the party’s candidate for chancellor and now has a real chance of winning.
The Greens’ program – on the left of the political spectrum – focuses on climate change and social justice.
A earlier this year, he was leading the polls.
Their leader, Annalena Baerbock, He has not yet played any role in the government, but could lead his party to the coalition.
For some years now, German public opinion, led by the press, has used some national flags to describe possible coalitions.
The parties have always been identified with colors: the CDU is represented in black, the Social Democrats of the SPD in red, the Greens in their name, the liberals of the FDP, yellow, and Die Linke (left). the post-communist party, with a darker red.
That is why these days we hear about the coalition Jamaica (CDU-CSU, Greens and Liberals), Kenya (CDU-CSU, SPD and Greens), Germany (CDU-CSU, SPD and Liberals) and the so-called traffic light (SPD , Greens and Liberals).
For its part, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party does not enter any pool.
Although he enjoys strong support in the eastern regions of Germany, he is rejected by the main parties because of his policies and no one seems to consider forming a coalition with him.
How is the winner decided?
When the Germans go to the polls, they vote by two things.
The first thing they choose is a local deputy of his constituency.
There are 299 electoral districts; that is, approximately one deputy for every 250,000 people.
Al candidate who gets the most votes is the awards a seat.
This winner-takes-all system is known as the “first vote.”
The second vote they vote, the “second vote,” is based on a different system: proportional representation.
The 299 remaining seats they are assigned based on the votes obtained by each party.
The seat is obtained by politicians based on the lists drawn up by their party.
This is the explanation of how the Bundestag seats are filled.
Why is the second vote decisive?
To begin with, because a party must win at least 5% of the votes of the second ballot to enter the Bundestag.
This threshold was designed to prevent small, often radical parties from coming to power.
Thus, according to the mixed electoral system in Germany, the composition of Parliament must reflect the result of the “second vote”.
Therefore, it is this “second vote” that that determines the percentage of seats that each party will get in the Bundestag and its chances of forming a government.
So why does the size of the Bundestag vary?
This is the tricky part. The number of seats in Parliament can increase if there are imbalances between the results of each party in the two votes. The resulting Bundestag would then not consist of 598 seats, but 709.
In fact the current Bundestag has 730 seats.
Consider this hypothetical example:
The CDU gets 110 seats in the constituency vote and 100 seats in the party vote. In this stage, the CDU would have 10 more seats than it should, according to the all-important “second vote”.
Sometimes voters endorse a particular candidate and then choose a different party.
What would happen in this example is that the CDU would keep the 10 additional seats, which are known as Overhang mandates the “excess mandates”.
However, the CDU now has 10 more seats than it should, an unfair advantage.
To level the playing field, all other parties are assigned the so-called Compensation mandatesor “compensation mandates.” This increases the number of representatives from all other parties on a percentage basis.
In this example, their seats would increase by 10% of their electoral results to correct the imbalance.
When will the results be known?
The winners and losers will be known within hours of the closing of the polling stations this Sunday.
It was what happened in the last Bundestag elections in 2017, when Angela Merkel delivered a grim speech to mark her party’s disappointing results.
But the negotiations for forming a government can take weeks.
This was the case in 2017, when there was a failed attempt to form a coalition between the CDU (black), the Greens and the FDP (yellow).
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.