All 736 seats in the Bundestag, including 138 overhang and leveling seats
369 seats needed for a majority
|Turnout||46,854,508 (76.6%) 0.4pp|
The left side shows constituency winners of the election by their party colours. The right side shows party list winners of the election for the additional members by their party colours.
|This article is part of a series on the|
| Politics of |
2021 German federal election
|Concurrent state elections|
Federal elections were held in Germany on 26 September 2021 to elect the members of the 20th Bundestag. State elections in Berlin and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern were also held. Incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel, first elected in 2005, chose not to run again, marking the first time that an incumbent Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany has not sought re-election.
With 25.7% of total votes, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) recorded their best result since 2005, and emerged as the largest party for the first time since 2002. The ruling CDU/CSU, which had led a grand coalition with the SPD since 2013, recorded their worst ever result with 24.1%, a significant decline from 32.9% in 2017. Alliance 90/The Greens achieved their best result in history at 14.8%, while the Free Democratic Party (FDP) made small gains and finished on 11.5%. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) fell from third to fifth place with 10.3%, a decline of 2.3 percentage points. The Left suffered their worst showing since their official formation in 2007, failing to cross the 5% electoral threshold by just over one-tenth of a percentage point. The party was nonetheless entitled to full proportional representation, as it won three direct constituencies.
With a fifth grand coalition being dismissed by both the CDU/CSU and the SPD, the FDP and the Greens were considered kingmakers. On 23 November, following complex coalition talks, the SPD, FDP and Greens formalized an agreement to form a traffic light coalition, which was approved by all three parties. Olaf Scholz and his cabinet were elected by the Bundestag on 8 December.
The 2017 federal election was held after a four-year grand coalition between the CDU/CSU and the SPD. Though the CDU/CSU remained the biggest parliamentary group, both it and the SPD suffered significant losses. The SPD leadership, recognising the party's unsatisfactory performance after four years in government, announced that it would go into opposition.With the CDU/CSU having pledged not to work with either the AfD or The Left before the federal election, the only remaining option for a majority government was a Jamaica coalition consisting of the CDU/CSU, FDP, and the Greens. Exploratory talks between the parties were held over the next six weeks, though the FDP withdrew from the negotiations on 20 November, citing irreconcilable differences between the parties on migration and energy policies. Chancellor Angela Merkel consulted with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who implored all parties to reconsider in order to avoid fresh elections.
The SPD and their leader Martin Schulz indicated their willingness to enter into discussions for another coalition government with the CDU/CSU.The SPD leadership voted to enter into exploratory discussion on 15 December 2017 and at a party congress in January 2018 a majority of the party's delegates voted to support the coalition talks. The text of the final agreement was agreed to by the CDU/CSU and the SPD on 7 February, though was conditioned on the approval of a majority of the SPD's party membership. The 463,723 members of the SPD voted to approve or reject the deal from 20 February to 2 March, with the result announced on 4 March. A total of 78.39% of members cast valid votes, of which 66.02% voted in favor of another grand coalition. Merkel was voted in by the Bundestag for a fourth term as chancellor on 14 March, with 364 votes for, 315 against, 9 abstentions, and 4 invalid votes, just 9 more votes than the 355 needed for a majority. The new government was officially referred to as the Fourth Merkel cabinet.
Merkel's final government was subject to intense instability. The 2018 German government crisis saw the longstanding alliance between the CDU and CSU threaten to split over asylum seeker policy. Interior Minister and CSU leader Horst Seehofer threatened to undercut Merkel's authority by closing German borders for asylum seekers registered in another European Union (EU) country. The split, eventually repaired following a summit with EU countries, threatened to bring down the government.Following his party's historically low result in the 2018 Bavarian state election, Seehofer was replaced as CSU leader by new Bavarian Minister-President Markus Söder at a party conference in January 2019, while he retained his position as Interior Minister in the Fourth Merkel cabinet.
In October 2018, Merkel announced that she would resign as leader of the CDU at the party's conference in December 2018 and step down as Chancellor of Germany at the forthcoming election, following poor results at state elections for the CSU in Bavaria and for the CDU in Hesse.Merkel's allegedly preferred candidate for the party leadership, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, narrowly defeated Friedrich Merz, who had been a rival of Merkel around 2002 and had left politics in 2009 criticising her decisions and leadership. Kramp-Karrenbauer struggled to unify the party's liberal and conservative factions, and in February 2020, when she failed to lead the Thuringia state CDU towards a solution of the government crisis there, she announced her intention to withdraw her interest in running as the CDU nominee for chancellor at the election and step down as party leader. A party convention to elect a new leader was scheduled for April but was repeatedly delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The election was held in January 2021, with Armin Laschet, incumbent Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia, winning with 52.8% of delegate votes. Merz was his main opponent at 47.2%.
The other party in the coalition government, the SPD, also had leadership instability. Following their worst general election result since 1945, at the beginning of the new government the party elected Andrea Nahles as their leader in April 2018. Nahles had already been elected leader of the SPD parliamentary group after the federal election in September when the party still planned to go into opposition.She was unsuccessful in improving the party's stock with the electorate as it continued to slide in opinion polls and was for the first time in history well beaten by the centre-left party Alliance 90/The Greens at the 2019 European Parliament election. She resigned on 2 June 2019, precipitating a leadership election for the SPD. Progressive candidates Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken defeated the more moderate candidates Olaf Scholz and Klara Geywitz, and were elected co-leaders by the party's membership. Their election raised prospects of the coalition government collapsing and early elections being called, although Reuters reported that the duo would seek to achieve agreement from the CDU/CSU on increasing public spending rather than allow the government to collapse. In August 2020, the party appointed Merkel's deputy Vice-Chancellor Scholz as its candidate for chancellor at the election, despite him having lost to Walter-Borjans and Esken in the party leadership election.
Cem Özdemir and Simone Peter stood down as co-leaders of the Greens after the failed Jamaica negotiations, and Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck were elected as their successors in January 2018. Dissatisfaction with the SPD and the federal government saw a rise in Greens' polling numbers throughout 2018. They scored record results in the Bavarian and Hessian state elections in October and subsequently surpassed the SPD in public opinion, settling in second behind the CDU/CSU for the next three years. The party had its best ever showings at the 2019 European Parliament election, 2020 Hamburg state election, and 2021 Baden-Württemberg state election. They briefly polled in first place during two brief periods, first after the 2019 European Parliament election and again after the nomination of chancellor candidates in April 2021.
The Left also underwent a change in leadership, with Katja Kipping and Bernd Riexinger stepping down after nine years as party co-leaders. They were succeeded by Janine Wissler and Susanne Hennig-Wellsow at a party conference held digitally on 27 February 2021. Wissler is considered a member of the party's left wing, formerly aligned with the Socialist Left faction, while Hennig-Wellsow is considered a moderate and part of the party's pragmatic wing. Both support their party's participation in federal government, particularly Hennig-Wellsow, who played a major role in the red–red–green coalition government of The Left, the SPD, and the Greens in the state of Thuringia.
Germany uses the mixed-member proportional representation system, a system of proportional representation combined with elements of first-past-the-post voting. The Bundestag has 598 nominal members, elected for a four-year term; these seats are distributed between the sixteen German states in proportion to the states' number of eligible voters.
Each voter can cast two votes: a constituency vote (first vote) and a party list vote (second vote). Based solely on the first votes, 299 members are elected in single-member constituencies by first-past-the-post voting. The second votes are used to produce a proportional number of seats for parties, first in the states, and then in the Bundestag. Seats are allocated using the Sainte-Laguë method. If a party wins fewer constituency seats in a state than its second votes would entitle it to, it receives additional seats from the relevant state list. Parties can file lists in every single state under certain conditions, such as a fixed number of supporting signatures. Parties can receive second votes only in those states in which they have filed a state list.If a party, by winning single-member constituencies in one state, receives more seats than it would be entitled to according to its second vote share in that state, the excess seats become known as overhang seats; to avoid negative vote weight, those overhang seats are compensated for in the other states, restoring proportionality according to second votes cast nationwide.
To qualify for proportional seat distribution, a party must receive more second votes nationwide than the electoral threshold of 5%. This requirement is waived for parties winning at least three single-member constituencies.As result of this waiver, parties have benefited on three occasions, such as the DP in the 1957 West German federal election and the PDS in the 1994 German federal election. Parties representing recognized national minorities are exempt from the electoral threshold. As of 2021, these minorities are the Danish, Frisians, Sorbs, and Romani people.
The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany and the Federal Election Act provides that federal elections must be held on a Sunday or on a federal holidayno earlier than 46 and no later than 48 months after the first sitting of the preceding session, unless a snap election is called or a state of defence is declared. Under this rule, the 2021 federal election had to take place on a Sunday between 29 August and 24 October (inclusive), as the previous 19th Bundestag had held its first sitting on 24 October 2017. The President of Germany sets the exact date for the election. On 9 December 2020, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier ordered the election to be held on 26 September 2021.
For the fourth time since 2009, the 2021 federal election was observed by OSCE,providing four experts from three OSCE states.
The Center for Monitoring, Analysis and Strategy (CeMAS) found that false claims of voter fraud had become commonplace on Telegram in Germany, with accusations against Dominion Voting Systems being common despite the company's technology not being used in German elections. CeMAS researcher Miro Dittrich said, "We have seen far-right actors try to claim election fraud since at least 2016, but it didn't take off. When Trump started telling the 'big lie,' it became a big issue in Germany, sometimes bigger than the pandemic, because far-right groups and the AfD are carefully monitoring the success Trump is having with this narrative."
The table below lists the parliamentary groups of the 19th Bundestag.
|CDU/CSU||CDU|| Christian Democratic Union of Germany |
Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands
|Christian democracy||Armin Laschet||Armin Laschet||26.8%|
246 / 709
|CSU|| Christian Social Union in Bavaria |
Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern
|SPD|| Social Democratic Party of Germany |
Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands
|Social democracy||Olaf Scholz|| Saskia Esken |
153 / 709
|AfD|| Alternative for Germany |
Alternative für Deutschland
|Right-wing populism|| Alice Weidel |
| Jörg Meuthen |
94 / 709
|FDP|| Free Democratic Party |
Freie Demokratische Partei
|Classical liberalism||Christian Lindner||Christian Lindner||10.7%|
80 / 709
|Linke|| The Left |
|Democratic socialism|| Janine Wissler |
69 / 709
|Grüne|| Alliance 90/The Greens |
Bündnis 90/Die Grünen
|Green politics|| Annalena Baerbock |
67 / 709
After the election of Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet as federal CDU chairman in January 2021, he became the presumptive CDU nominee for the Union's joint chancellor candidacy. Laschet was challenged by Minister-President of Bavaria Markus Söder of the CSU, who consistently polled well among voters and had been discussed as a potential candidate since mid-2020.As the contest intensified in March/April 2021, Söder was backed by the CSU as well as some state and local CDU associations, while Laschet received the support of most of the CDU. The two men failed to come to an agreement by the given deadline of 19 April, leading the federal CDU board to hold an impromptu meeting to break the deadlock. The board voted 31 to 9 in favour of Laschet. After the vote, Söder announced his support for Laschet as chancellor candidate.
On 10 August 2020, the SPD nominated incumbent Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz as their lead candidate for the election. Scholz, who served as Mayor of Hamburg from 2011 to 2018, unsuccessfully sought the SPD leadership in the 2019 leadership election.Scholz was formally elected at a party conference on 8–9 May 2021, supported by 96% of delegates.
The AfD's lead candidates were chosen via a membership vote held from 17 to 24 May 2021. The ticket of party co-chairman Tino Chrupalla and Bundestag co-leader Alice Weidel were elected with 71% of votes; they were opposed by the ticket of former German Air Force lieutenant-general Joachim Wundrak and MdB Joana Cotar, who won 24%. 14,815 votes were cast, corresponding to a turnout of 48%.
On 21 March 2021, the FDP association in North Rhine-Westphalia elected federal chairman Christian Lindner as top candidate for the party list in that state.He was re-elected as chairman on 14 May, winning 93% of votes with no opponent. The vote also served to confirm him as lead candidate for the federal election.
The Left announced Janine Wissler and Dietmar Bartsch as their co-lead candidates on 2 May 2021. Wissler was elected federal party co-leader earlier in the year alongside Susanne Hennig-Wellsow, who chose not to seek the co-lead candidacy. Bartsch had co-chaired The Left's Bundestag group since 2015, and was previously co-lead candidate in the 2017 federal election.Wissler and Bartsch were formally selected by the party executive on 8–9 May, receiving 87% of the votes.
Due to their rise in national opinion polling since 2018, the Greens were expected to forgo the traditional dual lead-candidacy in favour of selecting a single chancellor candidate. Party co-leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck were considered the only plausible candidates.Baerbock was announced as chancellor candidate on 19 April. Both Baerbock and Habeck were co-lead candidates for the party's election campaign.
A total of 47 parties and lists were approved to run in the 2021 federal election, including the seven which won seats in the 19th Bundestag. Of these, 40 ran party lists in at least one state, while 7 ran only direct candidates. In addition, 196 independent candidates ran in the various direct constituencies.
In the table below, green shading indicates that the party ran a list in the indicated state. The number in each box indicates how many direct candidates the party ran in the indicated state.
|Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU)||38||–||12||10||2||6||22||6||30||64||15||4||16||9||11||8|
|Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD)||38||46||12||10||2||6||22||6||30||64||15||4||16||9||11||8|
|Alternative for Germany (AfD)||38||44||12||10||2||6||22||6||27||63||15||4||16||9||11||8|
|Free Democratic Party (FDP)||38||46||12||10||2||6||22||6||30||64||15||4||16||9||11||8|
|The Left (DIE LINKE)||38||45||12||10||2||6||22||6||30||64||14||4||16||9||11||8|
|Alliance 90/The Greens (GRÜNE)||38||46||12||10||2||6||22||6||30||64||15||4||16||9||11||8|
|Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU)||–||46||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Free Voters (FREIE WÄHLER)||38||46||7||9||2||5||21||6||22||57||15||4||12||8||11||6|
|Human Environment Animal Protection (Tierschutzpartei)||8||6||12||1||1||–||–||3||9||3||3||–||–||1||–||–|
|National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD)||–||1||–||–||–||4||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Pirate Party Germany (PIRATEN)||3||6||6||5||1||2||4||3||8||4||1||–||3||–||–||1|
|Ecological Democratic Party (ÖDP)||16||46||10||7||2||5||–||–||5||2||9||4||13||1||–||4|
|V-Partei3 – Party for Change, Vegetarians and Vegans (V-Partei3)||1||11||–||–||1||–||–||–||1||1||–||–||2||–||1||–|
|Democracy in Motion (DiB)||6||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Bavaria Party (BP)||–||24||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Animal Protection Alliance (Tierschutzallianz)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||2||–||–|
|Marxist–Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD)||22||9||7||1||2||6||5||4||6||31||1||1||4||2||2||8|
|Party for Health Research (Gesundheitsforschung)||–||–||2||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||1||–||–||–|
|German Communist Party (DKP)||–||–||–||4||–||–||1||–||2||12||1||–||–||–||3||–|
|Human World (MENSCHLICHE WELT)||1||–||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|The Greys – For all Generations (Die Grauen)||–||–||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Civil Rights Movement Solidarity (BüSo)||2||5||–||–||–||–||1||–||–||–||–||–||1||–||–||–|
|Party of Humanists (Die Humanisten)||10||3||3||1||2||–||1||–||1||1||1||–||3||–||–||–|
|Garden Party (Gartenpartei)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||1||–||–|
|The Urbans. A HipHop Party (du.)||–||2||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||3||–|
|Socialist Equality Party, Fourth International (SGP)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Grassroots Democratic Party of Germany (dieBasis)||36||46||11||10||2||6||21||5||27||60||15||4||16||9||11||7|
|Alliance C – Christians for Germany (Bündnis C)||1||2||–||–||–||–||4||–||–||2||–||–||2||–||–||–|
|Third Way (III. Weg)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||1||–||–||–|
|Citizens' Movement for Progress and Change (BÜRGERBEWEGUNG)||3||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|The Pinks/Alliance 21 (BÜNDNIS21)||–||–||1||–||–||–||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|European Party LOVE (LIEBE)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||1||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Liberal Conservative Reformers (LKR)||3||7||10||–||–||1||1||–||8||7||3||–||4||–||6||2|
|Party for Progress (PdF)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Lobbyists for Children (LfK)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|South Schleswig Voters' Association (SSW)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||5||–|
|Team Todenhöfer – The Justice Party (Team Todenhöfer)||–||2||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Independents for Citizen-oriented Democracy (UNABHÄNGIGE)||–||2||–||3||–||–||1||1||–||2||2||–||–||–||–||–|
|Volt Germany (Volt)||13||12||2||1||1||3||5||–||–||15||10||–||–||–||2||–|
|From now... Democracy by Referendum (Volksabstimmung)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||2||–||–||–||–||–|
|Bergpartei, die "ÜberPartei" (B*)||–||–||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|The Others (sonstige)||–||–||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Family Party of Germany (FAMILIE)||–||–||–||1||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Grey Panthers (Graue Panther)||–||–||–||–||–||–||1||1||–||2||2||–||–||–||–||1|
|Climate List Baden-Württemberg (KlimalisteBW)||7||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Thuringian Homeland Party (THP)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||1|
|Independents and voter groups||15||26||9||18||–||2||15||2||21||31||22||1||22||7||2||3|
In July 2021, the respective state electoral committees rejected the lists of the AfD in Bremen and the Greens in Saarland. The AfD list was rejected for formal reasons, while the Green list in Saarland was declared invalid due to a controversial nomination process, in which one third of the state delegates were excluded from the nomination convention. Both state parties filed motions against the rulings. The federal electoral committee dismissed the motion of the Saarland Greens, while the AfD list in Bremen was permitted to run in the elections. The Green Party will thus not be eligible for the proportional vote in Saarland for the first time in the party's history.
The federal election was impacted by incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel's decision not to run again,and candidates to present themselves as the natural successor to Merkel.
The 2021 European floods put the climate issue back on the agenda in July. The SPD called for "everything to be done to stop global warming," while the CDU/CSU wanted to "speed up climate protection measures".By the end of July, 56 per cent of Germans believed that the floods made it "even more important than before" to combat climate change, and 73 per cent believed the government was not doing enough in this area; only the AfD's supporters were overwhelmingly of the opposite opinion. Following those events, six people under the age of 30 began a hunger strike in front of the Reichstag building at the end of August. They demanded a sincere dialogue with the leaders of the main political parties before the elections and the establishment of a citizens' convention to decide on ambitious measures for the climate.
During the deadly German floods, while visiting Erftstadt on 18 July, the CDU/CSU lead candidate Armin Laschet was caught laughing on camera and making jokes while President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was speaking. Laschet was heavily criticized, despite his apology saying: "It was stupid and shouldn't have happened and I regret it." Both the CDU/CSU and Laschet's ratings suffered heavily in opinion polls and the SPD took the lead.
During the campaign, Scholz rejected tax cuts for the rich as immoral,pledged to "increase taxes on the wealthy, spend on cleaner technology and expand social programs", and a minimum wage increase to 12 euros. In general, there was broad agreement among left-leaning parties on issues such as climate change, education, finance, health, and higher taxes for the rich, and The Left being more pro-European than similar left-wing parties like La France Insoumise, while issues of disagreement were foreign policy and security. Writing for The Guardian , Philip Oltermann commented: "Paradoxically, some Social Democrats see such commonalities as an obstacle rather than a boon for an effective power-sharing deal: since all three parties already call for a wealth tax, for example, it's unclear what policy Die Linke could sell its supporters as a win even if were to get its hands on the coveted labour ministry." Both the SPD and the Greens did not speak much on the subject but did not rule it out in public, although in private they were more sceptics. One SPD delegate was quoted as saying: "To prepare the ground for a robust and functioning coalition, you need to make sure that no one walks out of talks looking like a loser. That's difficult enough with two, but it becomes even more difficult when you have three partners." Oltermann posited that The Left could see entering federal government as "a final chance to reverse the party's decline, even if it means moving some of its red lines of old."
In its election manifesto, The Left called for abolishing NATO in favour of a "collective security system with Russia's involvement", to which Scholz said that this is an example of minimum criteria to govern which is not negotiable.The Left's lead candidates stated that those demands are a tribute to the party's historic anti-imperialist roots rather than reflecting ambitions to govern at the federal level and a discussion on the future of NATO is also being led by centrists such as France's Emmanuel Macron. The party struck the anti-NATO demand from its immediate policy measures and Janine Wissler responded that foreign policy was more than NATO. Gregor Gysi, a member of the left wing of the party, stated that such demands are more of a vision, are not to be implemented as soon as possible, and should not be seen as inflexible preconditions for a left-wing coalition.
As significant issues remain, attempts among willing delegates from both parties have been made over the years on how such issues could be solved in a coalition; the solution of an internal vote preceding foreign policies votes, such as foreign deployments, on a case-by-case analysis was deemed to be unworkable by many in the SPD. The Greens see foreign policy differences with The Left as big as financial and debt disagreements with the FDP.The Left joining the federal government would have broken a taboo due to being a democratic successor of East Germany's ruling party, and for its pacifist and anti-militarist stance, and could be seen as following examples in Spain and Sweden. A traffic light coalition (SPD–FDP–Greens) was seen as the more likely scenario but a R2G coalition, which would be favoured by the left-wing leadership and rank-and-file party members, was not excluded if coalition talks with FDP fail due minimum wage increase or the wealth tax.
For the first time since 2002, the four major television broadcasters ARD, ZDF, RTL, and ProSieben/Sat.1 did not hold a joint television debate. Separate debates were previously prevented by incumbent chancellor Merkel, who did not run for reelection. For the first time in history, three-way major debates were held, as the Greens were invited after overtaking the SPD in opinion polls.
|2021 German federal election debates|
|Date||Broadcasters||P Present S Surrogate I Invited NI Not invited|
|17 May 2021||RBB Fernsehen||NI||P|
|20 May 2021||WDR, tagesschau24||P|
|26 June 2021||tagesschau24||P|
|29 August 2021||RTL, n-tv||P|
|30 August 2021||ZDF||S|
|12 September 2021||Das Erste, ZDF||P|
|13 September 2021||ZDF||NI||NI||NI||P|
|13 September||Das Erste||NI||NI||NI||P|
|19 September 2021||ProSieben, Sat.1, Kabel eins||P|
|23 September 2021||Das Erste, ZDF||P|
Trackers of voting intentions and other election-related polling:
Although the vote share of the South Schleswig Voters' Association (0.12%) was well below the 5% electoral threshold, due to its status of being representative of a recognised minority group (Danes and Frisians), an exception in federal law allowed the party to win one party-list seat.
|Social Democratic Party||11,955,434||25.74||85||12,234,690||26.39||121||206||+53|
|Christian Democratic Union||8,775,471||18.90||54||10,451,524||22.54||98||152||−48|
|Alliance 90/The Greens||6,852,206||14.75||102||6,469,081||13.95||16||118||+51|
|Free Democratic Party||5,319,952||11.46||92||4,042,951||8.72||0||92||+12|
|Alternative for Germany||4,803,902||10.34||67||4,695,611||10.13||16||83||−11|
|Christian Social Union||2,402,827||5.17||0||2,788,048||6.01||45||45||−1|
|Human Environment Animal Protection||675,353||1.45||0||163,201||0.35||0||0||0|
|Grassroots Democratic Party||630,153||1.36||0||735,451||1.59||0||0||New|
|Pirate Party Germany||169,923||0.37||0||60,839||0.13||0||0||0|
|Ecological Democratic Party||112,314||0.24||0||152,792||0.33||0||0||0|
|National Democratic Party||64,574||0.14||0||1,090||0.00||0||0||0|
|South Schleswig Voters' Association||55,578||0.12||1||35,027||0.08||0||1||+1|
|Partei für Gesundheitsforschung||49,349||0.11||0||2,842||0.01||0||0||0|
|Party of Humanists||47,711||0.10||0||12,730||0.03||0||0||0|
|Alliance C – Christians for Germany||39,868||0.09||0||6,222||0.01||0||0||0|
|Independents for Citizen-oriented Democracy||22,736||0.05||0||13,421||0.03||0||0||0|
|Die Urbane. Eine HipHop Partei||17,811||0.04||0||1,912||0.00||0||0||0|
|German Communist Party||14,925||0.03||0||5,446||0.01||0||0||0|
|Alliance for Human Rights, Animal and Nature Protection||13,672||0.03||0||7,371||0.02||0||0||0|
|European Party Love||12,967||0.03||0||873||0.00||0||0||New|
|Liberal Conservative Reformers||11,159||0.02||0||10,767||0.02||0||0||New|
|Lobbyists for Children||9,189||0.02||0||0||New|
|Democracy in Motion||7,184||0.02||0||2,609||0.01||0||0||0|
|The Pinks/Alliance 21||3,488||0.01||0||377||0.00||0||0||New|
|Party of Progress||3,228||0.01||0||0||New|
|Socialist Equality Party||1,417||0.00||0||0||0|
|Democracy by Referendum||1,086||0.00||0||0||0|
|Thuringian Homeland Party||549||0.00||0||0||New|
|Bergpartei, die "ÜberPartei"||222||0.00||0||0||0|
|Independents and voter groups||110,894||0.24||0||0||0|
|Party list vote share by state|
Incumbents are denoted in bold and followed by (I).
|Dresden II – Bautzen II||Saxony||Lars Rohwer||Andreas Harlaß||35|
|Südpfalz||Rhineland-Palatinate||Thomas Hitschler||Thomas Gebhart (I)||41|
|Steinburg – Dithmarschen Süd||Schleswig-Holstein||Mark Helfrich (I)||Karin Thissen||52|
|Emmendingen – Lahr||Baden-Württemberg||Peter Weiß||Johannes Fechner||90|
|Munich West/Centre||Bavaria||Stephan Pilsinger (I)||Dieter Janecek||137|
|Mansfeld||Saxony-Anhalt||Robert Farle||Torsten Schweiger (I)||198|
|Bonn||North Rhine-Westphalia||Katrin Uhlig||Jessica Rosenthal||216|
|Leipzig-Land||Saxony||Edgar Naujok||Georg‑Ludwig von Breitenbuch||282|
|Burgenland – Saalekreis||Saxony-Anhalt||Dieter Stier (I)||Martin Reichardt||321|
|Hamburg-Eimsbüttel||Hamburg||Till Steffen||Niels Annen (I)||359|
In Berlin, vote casting and counting was not simple as the election was the same day as not only the Berlin Marathon, but the Berlin state election and a local referendum. The Federal Returning Officer felt compelled to request a report from the State Returning Officer Petra Michaelis.
In some polling stations ballot papers were missing or ran out and could not be delivered on the same day due to the Berlin marathon. Ballot papers (of which there were 115 different variants in Berlin) and postal voting documents were also swapped. Many votes were cast long after the official end of voting at 6 p.m, the last after 8 p.m. when the outcome was already being forecast.At least one polling station was closed due to missing documents.
In at least 16 Berlin polling stations, basic election data did not match (including impossible voter turnouts of over 100%).
On 29 September 2021, Michaelis announced her resignation and that of her deputy.
|Sociology of the electorate|
|18–24 years old||15%||10%||23%||21%||7%||8%||3%||13%|
|25–34 years old||17%||14%||21%||15%||12%||7%||3%||13%|
|35–44 years old||20%||19%||18%||12%||15%||5%||3%||8%|
|45–59 years old||26%||23%||16%||12%||12%||4%||3%||4%|
|60–69 years old||32%||28%||12%||9%||10%||4%||2%||3%|
|70 or older||35%||38%||7%||8%||5%||4%||1%||2%|
|Source: Infratest dimap|
The SPD had their best result since 2005 at 25%; it was also the first time since 2002 that they emerged as the largest party in the Bundestag. For the first time since 2002, the SPD swept all single-member constituency seats in the states of Brandenburg and Saarland, where they defeated cabinet ministers Peter Altmaier and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.They also won all constituencies in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern for the first time, including Vorpommern-Rügen – Vorpommern-Greifswald I, the seat of outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel. It is also the first time they won any single-member constituency seats in Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia since 2005.
The SPD had been written off by many political observers due to longtime internal quarrelsand poor performances in prior elections, even those in early 2021. In the 2019 European Parliament election, they dropped to a historic low 15.8%, accelerating the decline of already deeply embattled and unpopular leader Andrea Nahles. When the unpopular and little-known SPD leaders Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken nominated moderate Olaf Scholz, whom they had unexpectedly defeated in the 2019 leadership election, as Chancellor candidate in August 2020, they were widely mocked. The SPD sat at a distant third place in the polls and stayed there until their sudden surge late in the campaign.
However, even at their historic poll lows around 14%, Olaf Scholz had a significantly higher personal approval rating than both his party and the other Chancellor candidates Laschet and Baerbock.After the extreme personal unpopularity, resulting from gaffes and scandal, meant that first Baerbock and then Laschet floundered, the SPD surprisingly took the lead, for the first time since early 2017, in the final stretches of the election campaign. This surprising surge also meant that some "paper candidates", a lot of them young, were unexpectedly elected to the Bundestag, for example Jan Plobner, Jakob Blankenburg or Fabian Funke.
That being said, the surge and eventual outcome of the election was mainly decided by older voters, who switched from the CDU/CSU to the SPD,which some attributed to Scholz being very similar in his calm and moderate leadership style to incumbent Angela Merkel.
The CDU/CSU had their worst result ever by far, eclipsing the previous worst of 31% in 1949. Many prominent politicians were defeated in their single-member constituency seats, including ministers Altmaier, Helge Braun, Kramp-Karrenbauer, and Julia Klöckner as well as Hans-Georg Maaßen and Philipp Amthor, though all of them except Maaßen were still elected to the Bundestag via their respective state party lists.There was speculation that chancellor candidate Armin Laschet would lose election to the Bundestag; he was placed first on the North Rhine-Westphalia party list, and if the CDU gained overhang seats, that list would not be used. Due to the CDU's bad performance in terms of single-member constituency seats, Laschet was elected to the Bundestag. The first time since 2005 that they did not win all single-member constituency seats in Bavaria, the CSU also had their worst result in history.
Reasons given for the catastrophic defeat were corruption scandals of several CDU/CSU politicians in spring 2021,some minor allegations even being brought against Laschet himself. In addition, Laschet was suffering from extreme personal unpopularity, even in his own state. Laschet did not have the incumbency advantage that helped moderately popular Merkel to win re-election three times, but still had to run on Merkel's legacy in voters minds. This meant that the otherwise popular CDU/CSU platform of increasing digitization, reducing bureaucracy and moderate climate action were not taken seriously as his party had not addressed them in sixteen years of government in the minds of many voters. In one infamous campaign moment, Laschet spoke of a "Wind of Change" in his closing statement in the first three way debate, which was widely ridiculed. The contentious decision to have him run as CDU/CSU candidate instead of the much more popular CSU leader Markus Söder by the CDU establishment also played into this. During the belligerent internal selection process in spring, polls showed Söder faring a lot better than Laschet in the election, often higher than the 2017 result, and Söder was the preferred candidate of the base and the public at large. Even fairly late into the election campaign, 70% of CDU/CSU supporters wanted to replace Laschet with Söder. Söder publicly supported and defended Laschet, even on election night, but was accused of backstabbing Laschet's candidacy in order to become chancellor candidate in 2025.
Laschet took responsibility for the result, but initially refused to resign in hopes of becoming Chancellor through a Jamaica coalition. The ensuing talks were plagued by leaks damaging Laschetand after Söder prematurely declared the talks to be over, both Greens and FDP decided to enter coalition talks with the SPD instead. After intense pressure from his party and the public, Laschet announced on 8 October 2021 that he would step down but would moderate the next CDU leadership election. That leadership contest was the first to be decided by party members, who overwhelmingly chose conservative outsider Friedrich Merz in December 2021, after he failed in the previous two leadership elections, to Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in 2018 and Laschet in January 2021. This was seen as a rebuttal to the party establishment, that backed Kramp-Karrenbauer and Laschet, both seen as being more moderate, aligned in both policy positions and leadership style to Angela Merkel.
The Greens got their best result in history, nearly doubling from 2017. This is also the first federal election in which they won single-member constituency seats outside of Berlin-Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg – Prenzlauer Berg East; however, expectations for them were a lot higher, with them polling at over 20% in the summer and peaking at around 25%, having briefly overtaken the CDU in April and May.Their slump in the polls was largely attributed to a number of gaffes from and the personal unpopularity of Annalena Baerbock, though polls show that a lot of Green voters migrated to the SPD in the final weeks of the campaign to ensure the CDU would not form government.
Though she won in the party-list, Baerbock lost in Potsdam – Potsdam-Mittelmark II – Teltow-Fläming II to SPD's Olaf Scholz by a large margin.In addition, though the Greens won 16 single-member constituency seats, all of them except Flensburg – Schleswig, the constituency of future Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, were urban constituencies.
The Greens were also disqualified from running on the Saarland state list due to irregularities in the selection of list candidates.The Greens had, however, won only one seat in the Saarland in the previous two federal elections.
The FDP had their second best showing since German reunification, gaining a few seats to maintain its fourth-place position.This was enough to make it a kingmaker alongside the Greens in coalition talks.
Like the Greens, they did well with young voters; among first-time voters, they received the highest vote share of 23%.
The AfD lost seats and went from the third largest to the fifth largest party in the Bundestag; however, they performed strongly in former East Germany, where they won 16 single-member constituency seats in Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia.While the AfD lost vote share in Saxony, the stronger losses of the CDU still allowed them to place ahead of the CDU, becoming the most voted party in Saxony. They also won the most party list votes in Thuringia, though only by 0.6%.
Reasons given for their drop in support include far less media attention, largely due to the open Chancellor's race, and large swaths of Anti-lockdown and Anti-vaccination voters, which the AfD campaigned hard on, voting for dieBasis and Free Voters. Leader of the AfD in the Bundestag Alice Weidel was widely ridiculed for claiming on election night that they surpassed their 2017 result if one added the results for dieBasis and Free Voters.
The Left had their worst showing since 2002, when it was the Party of Democratic Socialism, slumping from 69 seats in 2017 to just 39. While they fell just short of the election threshold they won at least three single-member constituency seats (two in their stronghold in the former East Berlin, down from four, and one in Saxony), entitling them to proportional representation in the Bundestag according to their second votes.Under a longstanding electoral law intended to benefit parties with regional appeal (as is the case with the Left in the old East Germany), any party that wins at least three constituency seats is entitled to its share of proportionally-elected seats, regardless of vote share.
Apart from this symbolic defeat, their preferred government, a left-wing red–red–green coalition,does not have a majority in the Bundestag, and the German financial market rallied as a result. Vice President of the Bundestag Petra Pau lost her single-member constituency of Berlin-Marzahn-Hellersdorf by a large margin. The seat had been held by The Left and its predecessor parties since the 1990 federal election.
Reasons given for the massive slump were public quarrels in the party.This included feuds surrounding the position on Afghanistan, the former leader Oskar Lafontaine, who advised voting against his party in the Saarland due to alleged fraud, and popular figure Sahra Wagenknecht, who some in the party wanted to expel for her book "Die Selbstgerechten" in which she harshly criticizes, among other things, "Wokeness" within her party. These public feuds intensified after the election, for example, the convicted former head of government of East Germany Hans Modrow, who chairs The Left's "council of elders", denounced the party.
In terms of representation of ethnic minorities, one source suggested that the Bundestag would have 24 new MPs with "Balkan" ancestry. Its list included, however, largely people of Turkish ancestry who mostly have roots in Anatolia.The South Schleswig Voters' Association (SSW), a regionalist party only contesting Schleswig-Holstein representing the Danish and Frisian minorities in Southern Schleswig, won their first seat, becoming the first regionalist party to win seats since 1953. Recognized minority parties are exempt from the threshold of 5%, which is how the SSW won a seat with 0.1% of the vote nationwide. The SSW last contested in 1961 and last won a seat in 1949. They named a felt discrimination of Northern Germany as reason for them contesting the election. Stefan Seidler was seated as their Member of the German Bundestag. Seidler was offered to sit in the SPD parliamentary group as a guest by their leader Rolf Mützenich, but declined.
Minor parties did exceptionally well in the 2021 election. The left-wing satire party Die PARTEI had their best result ever, as did the Animal Protection Party and the regionalist Free Voters, which doubled their result and received 7.5% in Bavaria, where they take part in the state government. A few new minor parties emerged in the 2021 election, the most notable being the Anti-lockdown and Anti-vaccination dieBasis party, which received between 1 and 1.9%. Team Todenhöfer, founded in 2020 by notorious former CDU Member of the German Bundestag Jürgen Todenhöfer, also first contested the 2021 election, running on Anti-militarism and receiving support from pro-Palestinian groups, but only garnered 0.5% of the vote. The 2021 election also accelerated the decline of the far-right National Democratic Party, which only got 0.1% of the vote. The NPD was at a time the most successful minor/fringe party, getting 1.6% in 2005 and entering various state parliaments in former East Germany.
A three-party governing coalition, with the FDP and the Greens joining either the SPD or CDU/CSU, was discussed as a likely outcome.While the grand coalition of the CDU/CSU and SPD could have been renewed, numerous representatives of both the CDU/CSU and the SPD ruled out this option before the federal election, during the campaign, and after. On election night, SPD leader Scholz reiterated his goal to form a government, citing the fact that his party emerged as the largest in parliament. He expressed his intention to become chancellor and his preference for a traffic light coalition with the FDP and the Greens. Leading figures in the CDU/CSU such as Michael Kretschmer stated that since the CDU/CSU was knocked down to second place, it should not form the government. The FDP and the Greens, having won 210 seats between them, announced that they would talk separately before deciding on whom to support as a senior coalition partner. The Greens and the FDP held discussions for two days after the election. On 7 October, the two parties met with the SPD for the first round of exploratory talks, with a second round on 11 October. On 15 October, the SPD agreed to more ambitious climate targets, as pledged by the Greens. On 17 October, the Greens voted to enter formal coalition talks with the SPD and FDP. The next day, the FDP voted to do the same. The 20th Bundestag was officially sworn in on 26 October.
On 16 November, the general secretaries of the three traffic light coalition parties (SPD, FDP, Greens) announced that an agreement document was almost complete, with Scholz to become Chancellor, and that the details would be issued some time in the next week.On 23 November, an agreement for a traffic light coalition was finalised. The three parties announced a number of policies, including plans to phase out coal energy by 2030, eight years ahead of the previous target, as well as lower the federal voting age to 16 years, raise the minimum wage to €12 per hour, and lower barriers to acquiring German citizenship. Annalena Baerbock will become foreign minister, while Robert Habeck will head a new "super ministry" with responsibility for climate, energy, and economy. Christian Lindner will become finance minister. The SPD convention voted 98.8% in favour of approving the agreement on 4 December, followed by the FDP with 92.4% on 5 December. The results of the Greens membership ballot were announced on 6 December, with 86% voting to approve the coalition. Scholz was elected as Chancellor by the Bundestag on 8 December, with 395 votes of 707 cast, with 303 votes against.
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