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Elections in Germany include elections to the Bundestag (Germany's federal parliament), the Landtags of the various states, and local elections.
Several articles in several parts of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany govern elections and establish constitutional requirements such as the secret ballot, and requirement that all elections be conducted in a free and fair manner. The Basic Law also requires that the federal legislature enact detailed federal laws to govern elections; electoral law(s). One such article is Article 38, regarding the election of deputies in the federal Bundestag. Article 38.2 of the Basic Law establishes universal suffrage: "Any person who has attained the age of eighteen shall be entitled to vote; any person who has attained the age of majority may be elected."
German federal elections are for all members of the Bundestag, which in turn determines who is the Chancellor of Germany. Federal elections were held in 2009, 2013 and in 2017.
After the unification of Germany under Emperor Wilhelm I in 1871, elections were held to the German Reichstag or ‘Imperial Assembly’, which supplanted its namesake, the Reichstag of the Norddeutscher Bund. The Reichstag could be dissolved by the Kaiser or, after the abdication of Wilhelm II in 1918, the Reichspräsident. With the Weimar Republic's Constitution of 1919, the voting system changed from single-member constituencies to proportional representation. The election age was reduced from 25 to 20 years of age.Women's suffrage had already been established by a new electoral law in 1918 following the November Revolution of that year.
Following the Nazi seizure of power in January 1933, another national election was held on 5 March. This was the last competitive election before World War II, although it was neither free nor fair. Violence and intimidation by the Sturmabteilung , SS and Der Stahlhelm had been underway for months against trade-unionists, communists, social democrats, and even centre-right Catholics.On 27 February, just prior to the election, the Reichstag Fire Decree suspended freedom of the press and most civil liberties. Mass arrests followed, including all Communist (KPD) and several Social Democrat (SPD) delegates to the Reichstag. 50000 members of the Hilfspolizei (auxiliary Nazi police) "monitored" polling places on election day to further intimidate voters. While the NSDAP performed better than it had in the elections of November 1932, it still won only 33% of the vote. By placing their rivals in jail and intimidating others not to take their seats, the Nazis went from a plurality to the majority. Just two weeks after election, the Enabling Act of 1933 effectively gave Hitler dictatorial power. Three more elections were held in Nazi Germany before the war. They all took the form of a one-question referendum, asking voters to approve a predetermined list of candidates composed exclusively of Nazis and nominally independent "guests" of the party.
Federal elections are conducted approximately every four years, resulting from the constitutional requirement for elections to be held 46 to 48 months after the assembly of the Reichstag.Elections can be held earlier in exceptional constitutional circumstances: for example, were the Chancellor to lose a vote of confidence in the Bundestag, then, during a grace period before the Bundestag can vote in a replacement Chancellor, the Chancellor could request the Federal President to dissolve the Bundestag and hold elections. Should the Bundestag be dismissed before the four-year period has ended, elections must be held within 100 days. The exact date of the election is chosen by the President and must be a Sunday or public holiday.
German nationals over the age of 18 who have resided in Germany for at least three months are eligible to vote. Eligibility for candidacy is essentially the same.
The federal legislature in Germany has a one chamber parliament—the Bundestag (Federal Diet); the Bundesrat (Federal Council) represents the regions and is not considered a chamber as its members are not elected. The Bundestag is elected using a mixed member proportional system. The Bundestag has 598 nominal members, elected for a four-year term. Half, 299 members, are elected in single-member constituencies by first-past-the-post voting, while a further 299 members are allocated from party lists to achieve a proportional distribution in the legislature, conducted according to a form of proportional representation called the Mixed member proportional representation system (MMP). Voters vote once for a constituency representative, and a second time for a party, and the lists are used to make the party balances match the distribution of second votes. Overhang seats may add to the nominal number of 598 members: for example, in the 2009 federal election there were 24 overhang seats, giving a total of 622 seats. This is caused by larger parties winning additional single-member constituencies above the totals determined by their proportional party vote.
Germany has a multi-party system with two strong political parties and some other third parties also represented in the Bundestag. Since 1990, five parties (counting the CDU and CSU as one) have been represented in the Bundestag.
In 2008, some modifications to the electoral system were required under an order of the Federal Constitutional Court. The court had found that a provision in the Federal Election Law made it possible for a party to experience a negative vote weight, thus losing seats due to more votes, and found that this violated the constitutional guarantee of the electoral system being equal and direct.
The court allowed three years to amend the law. Accordingly, the 2009 federal election was allowed to proceed under the previous system. The changes were due by 30 June 2011, but appropriate legislation was not completed by that deadline. A new electoral law was enacted in late 2011, but declared unconstitutional once again by the Federal Constitutional Court upon lawsuits from the opposition parties and a group of some 4,000 private citizens.
Finally, four of the five factions in the Bundestag agreed on an electoral reform whereby the number of seats in the Bundestag will be increased as much as necessary to ensure that any overhang seats are compensated through apportioned leveling seats, to ensure full proportionality according to the political party's share of party votes at the national level.The Bundestag approved and enacted the new electoral reform in February 2013.
State elections are conducted under various rules set by the Länder (states). In general they are conducted according to some form of party-list proportional representation, either the same as the federal system or some simplified version. The election period is generally four to five years, and the dates of elections vary from state to state.
In the German Democratic Republic, elections to the Volkskammer were effectively controlled by the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) and state hierarchy, even though multiple pro forma parties existed. The 18 March 1990 election were the first free ones held in the GDR, producing a government whose major mandate was to negotiate an end to itself and its state.
Prior to the Fall of the Berlin Wall, East Germany did not have free elections. Polling places were under surveillance by the state security apparatuses and the ruling party, the SED, presented voters with a slate of proposed candidates. Voters could optionally enter a booth to strike any candidates the voter did not want; a voter who agreed with the SED's full list simply folded the unmarked ballot in half and placed it into the ballot box. Entering a voting booth was considered suspicious and was noted by the state security apparatuses, which could lead to consequences later for the voter. East German voters commonly referred to the act of voting as "folding" (German : falten). Election outcomes prior to 1990 commonly saw 99% of voters in favor of the suggested slate of candidates. On top of this, the government engaged in electoral fraud and commonly falsified both results and voter turnout percentages, even as late as the May 1989 municipal elections.
See: Local elections in Germany
Local elections in Germany (German: Kommunalwahlen) include elections for most regional and local subdivisions, unless their representatives are appointed or elected by another assembly or office. Such local elections are conducted for representatives in districts, cities, towns, villages and various other administrative regional organizations. In cities and towns local elections usually include voting for a lord mayor or mayor. Smaller villages and settlements may elect a representative (German: Ortsvorsteher) with limited administrative power. Local elections are also often combined with polls about important local matters and questions of general public interest (i.e. the construction of local roads or other infrastructure facilities). While such polls are not legally binding in most cases, their results have considerable influence on local political decisions.[ citation needed ]
After the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 to strengthen the European integration, Germany and other EU member states implemented legislative changes to grant foreigners of other EU countries the right to vote in local elections in their host country. Foreign EU citizens can vote in elections on district and municipal level in Germany, after the German states adapted their regulations between 1995 and 1998.[ citation needed ]
The Bundestag is the German federal parliament. It is the only body that is directly elected by the German people on the Federal level. It can be compared to the lower house similar to the United States House of Representatives or the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. The Bundestag was established by Title III of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949 as one of the legislative bodies of Germany and thus it is the historical successor to the earlier Reichstag.
The Free Democratic Party is a liberal and classical-liberal political party in Germany. The FDP is led by Christian Lindner.
Germany is a democratic, federal parliamentary republic, where federal legislative power is vested in the Bundestag and the Bundesrat.
The Party of Democratic Socialism was a democratic socialist political party in Germany active between 1989 and 2007. It was the legal successor to the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), which ruled the German Democratic Republic as a state party until 1990. From 1990 through to 2005, the PDS had been seen as the left-wing "party of the East". While it achieved minimal support in western Germany, it regularly won 15% to 25% of the vote in the eastern new states of Germany, entering coalition governments in the federal states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Berlin.
The Federal Republic of Germany is a federal republic consisting of sixteen partly-sovereign states. Since the German nation state was formed from an earlier collection of several states, it has a federal constitution, and the constituent states retain a measure of sovereignty.
In Germany, the President of the Bundesrat or President of the Federal Council is the chairperson or speaker of the Bundesrat. He or she is elected by the Bundesrat for a term of one year. Traditionally, the Presidency of the Bundesrat rotates among the leaders of the sixteen state governments. This is however only an established praxis, theoretically the Bundesrat is free to elect any member it chooses, and a President could also be re-elected. As well as acting as a chairperson the President of the Bundesrat is ex officio deputy of the President of Germany.
The German football league system, or league pyramid, refers to the hierarchically interconnected league system for association football in Germany that in the 2016–17 season consists of 2,235 divisions having 31,645 teams, in which all divisions are bound together by the principle of promotion and relegation. The top three professional levels contain one division each. Below this, the semi-professional and amateur levels have progressively more parallel divisions, which each cover progressively smaller geographic areas. Teams that finish at the top of their division at the end of each season can rise higher in the pyramid, while those that finish at the bottom find themselves sinking further down. In theory it is possible for even the lowest local amateur club to rise to the top of the system and become German football champions one day. The number of teams promoted and relegated between the divisions varies, and promotion to the upper levels of the pyramid is usually contingent on meeting additional criteria, especially concerning appropriate facilities and finances.
The new federal states of Germany are the five re-established states of former East Germany that acceded to the Federal Republic of Germany with its 10 states upon German reunification on October 3, 1990.
The Left, also commonly referred to as the Left Party, is a democratic socialist political party in Germany. The party was founded in 2007 as the result of the merger of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative (WASG). Through PDS, the party is the direct descendant of the Marxist-Leninist ruling party of the former East Germany (GDR), the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED).
The Landesliga is a tier of football in some states of the German football league system.
Germany's federal system comprises 16 state parliaments, each including directly elected representatives.
Events in the year 2009 in Germany.
The German federal election system regulates the election of the members of the national parliament, called Bundestag. According to the principles governing the elections laws, set down in Art. 38 of German Basic Law, elections are to be universal, direct, free, equal, and secret. Furthermore, the German Basic Law stipulates that Bundestag elections are to take place every four years and that one can vote, and be elected, upon reaching the age of 18. All other stipulations for the federal elections are regulated by the Federal Electoral Act. Elections always take place on a Sunday. Mail votes are possible upon application.
The Pirate Party Germany, commonly known as Pirates, is a political party in Germany founded in September 2006 at c-base. It states general agreement with the Swedish Piratpartiet as a party of the information society; it is part of the international movement of pirate parties and a member of the Pirate Parties International. In 2011-12, the party succeeded in attaining a high enough vote share to enter four state parliaments and the European Parliament. However, their popularity rapidly declined and by 2017 they had no representation in any of the German state parliaments. Their one European MEP, Patrick Breyer, has joined the Greens/EFA group. Together with Marcel Kolaja, Markéta Gregorová and Mikuláš Peksa from the Czech Pirate Party they build up the European Pirate Party team for the European Parliament in Brussels.
The Conference of Ministers-President is a committee formed by the sixteen States of Germany (Bundesländer) to coordinate policy in areas that fall within the sole jurisdiction of the Länder, e.g. broadcasting. The conference is no constitutional organ, therefore formal agreements between the federal states are fixed in a Staatsvertrag, e.g. Rundfunkstaatsvertrag and have to be.
In the run up to the 2017 German federal election, various organisations carry out opinion polling to gauge voting intention in Germany. Results of such polls are displayed in this article.
Richterwahlausschuss' – is the name of bodies in the German judicial system that elect the judges of the ordinary courts and the special courts on the federal level (Bundesebene) and in some cases also on the level of the states (Landesebene).
The Minister President (Ministerpräsident) is the head of state and government in thirteen of Germany's sixteen states.
State elections were held in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany on 20 October 1946 to elect the state legislatures of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. They were the only elections held in the future territory of East Germany before the establishment of the German Democratic Republic in 1949.
State elections were held in East Germany on 15 October 1950. They were the last state elections in the country, as the states were dissolved in 1952.