German Bundestag Elections 2017

German flag with silhouettes

Making Choices: German Bundestag Elections on September 24

The official preliminary election results are in, and it's clear that the Bundestag will look quite different for the next four years. The real winners may be the German voters, who achieved a voter turnout of 76.2 percent, up nearly 5 percentage points over 2013. Some would say say the real action begins now as parties enter coalition talks to try and form a government. (Results via Federal Returning Officer) ____________________________________________________________________________

Seat Distrubution for 19th Bundestag

Newly Elected Bundestag of 709 Seats

The newly elected Bundestag will comprise 709 members (up from 631 in 2013), including 111 additional seats. The graphic shows the seat distribution by party n the 19th German Bundestag, according to the official provisional election result of the Federal Returning Officer.



Votes Obtained by the Parties

The grahic above shows the shares of second votes obtained by the parties, according to provisional results as reported by the Federal Returning Officer.



Two Votes

In Germany voting is on the basis of slightly modified personalized proportional representation. Every person ­eligible to vote has two votes. The first is for a party’s candidate in the con­stituency, the second for a state list of candidates put up by a particular party. The number of seats a party holds in the Bundestag is determined by the number of valid second votes it receives.


Posters for Martin Schulz (SPD) and for Angela Merkel (CDU)


A total of 4,828 candidates are running in the Bundestag election on 24 September 2017, among them are 1,400 women. A total of 885 candidates are running in a constituency (district) only; 2,269 candidates are merely on a state list; 1,674 people are standing for election in both a constituency and on a state list.


Campaign posters

Participating Parties

This year, 42 parties are taking part in the elections, more than ever before. They include the two largest parties—the Christian Democratic Union of Germany or CDU (and their Bavarian sister party) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany or SPD—and relatively new, smaller parties, like the Pirate Party; the Party for Change, Vegetarians and Vegans; and the Independent Party for a Citizens Democracy.

Thirty-four of the parties have registered state lists. State lists contain the names of candidates in the order in which they would be seated according to a party’s proportion in the Bundestag. Voters choose among parties with state lists for their second vote.


18th Bundestag (Elected in 2013)

Distribution of Seats in Parliament

Technically speaking half the 598 seats in the Bundestag are allocated by means of the parties’ state lists (the second vote) and the other half by the direct election of candidates in the 299 constituencies (the first vote).

If the number of seats a party obtains through the second vote is higher than its direct mandates the remaining seats are assigned to the candidates according to their rank on the state list. If the number of seats obtained by a party’s direct candidates is higher than its share according to the second vote so-called “overhang” seats are granted, with a certain number of compensatory seats assigned to the other parties to keep the proportion of seats intact. For example the current Bundestag has a total of 631 seats.

Parties must win at least 5 percent of the vote or win three direct mandates in order to be represented in the Bundestag.

Listed here are seven parties that have a realistic chance, based on most polls, of clearing the five percent hurdle for representation in the Bundestag:

  • Christian Democratic Unions of Germany  / Christian Social Union in Bavaria
  • Social Democratic Party of Germany
  • Alliance 90/The Greens
  • Alternative for Germany
  • The Left
  • Free Democratic Party


Colorful game pieces

Coalition Governments

The German electoral system makes it very difficult for any one party to form a government on its own. This has only happened once in 56 years. An alliance of parties is the general rule. So that the voters know which partner the party they voted for is considering governing with, the parties mostly issue coalition statements before embarking on the election campaign. By voting for a particular party citizens thus express on the one hand a preference for a specific party alliance, and on the other determine the balance of power between the desired future partners in government.


Bundestag members vote for Chancellor

Election of the Chancellor

The Chancellor of Germany is elected by the Bundestag. Normally, no one party has a clear majority in the Bundestag. For this reason parties usually form a coalition to be able to elect a Chancellor and to govern effectively.