Skip to main content

New Federal Government

Following the Bundestag elections in 2021, the SPD, the Green party, and the FDP have agreed to form a government. Facts about the government alliance, the election, and the electoral system.
Neue Koalition 2021
Annalena Baerbock (the Green party), Robert Habeck (the Green party), Olaf Scholz (SPD), Christian Lindner (FDP)
© picture alliance/dpa

The Bundestag The Bundestag The Bundestag is the elected representation of the German people. 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). This… Read more › elections Elections Every four years, the parties stand in the general elections to the Bundestag. Traditionally, the turn-out is high in Germany, and following a high in the 1970s, when the turn-out was over 90 percent, since reunification it has been around 80 percent. Read more › on 26 September 2021 have led to a change of government: For the first time, Germany will have a Federal Government Federal Government The Federal Government and cabinet is made up of the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Ministers. While the Chancellor holds the power to issue directives, the ministers have departmental powers, meaning that they independently run their respective ministries in the framework of those directives… Read more › made of up of the SPD, the Green party, and the FDP. The three parties agreed to govern together for the next four years with the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz as Chancellor. This brings to an end CDU politician Angela Merkel’s term in office; she has ruled Germany as Chancellor for 16 years.

The coalition of three parties is a novelty for Germany. In previous decades, the country has been ruled almost solely by alliances forged between two political parties Political parties According to the Basic Law it is the task of the political parties to participate in political will formation by the people. As such, putting forward candidates for political office and the organization of election campaigns both have the status of constitutional tasks. For this reason the parties… Read more › . Before the change of government, the Federal Government was made up of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU) from Bavaria Bavaria The “beer state” of Bavaria also produces fine wine in the Franconia region. The Oktoberfest, Neuschwanstein Castle and the magnificent Alpine scenery attract more foreign tourists than does any other federal state. Yet the slogan “Laptop and Lederhose” demonstrates that there is more to Bavaria… Read more › , united in the Bundestag The Bundestag The Bundestag is the elected representation of the German people. 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). This… Read more › as the Union parliamentary party, and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). The results of the Bundestag elections, however, did not allow for the formation of this kind of classic two-way coalition – hence the new alliance of three parties. In the past, the Green party and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) in particular have often been seen as the political opposition.

Two months after the Bundestag elections, however, the three parties have agreed on a coalition treaty. In terms of foreign policy, the new government is building on trusted basic pillars: a commitment to Europe, friendship with France, partnership with the USA, and a commitment to peace and understanding in the world. This multilateral approach also relies on strengthening the United Nations United Nations The United Nations (UN) are the foundations and cornerstone of the international system. So as to adapt it to the political realities of the present day, Germany is in favour of a reform of the UN. Since 1996 Germany, which is the fourth largest contributor to the UN budget, has been one of the UN… Read more › politically, financially, and in terms of personnel. The new coalition also aims to be a pioneer in climate protection internationally.

Below is an overview of the most important domestic policy projects, which the government alliance has placed under the motto “Mehr Fortschritt wagen” (“Daring greater progress”):

  • The government coalition describes the fight against the Corona pandemic as “a central task”. For this purpose, a permanent federal and state crisis unit is to be set up, with an additional permanent unit of experts in the Federal Chancellery.
  • The fight against climate change is a key issue for the new government. By 2030 German aims to generate 80 percent of its power from renewable energies; previously the target was 65 percent. The phase-out of coal is to be brought forward to 2030 if possible.
  • The minimum wage in Germany is to rise to 12 euros an hour. It currently stands at 9.60 euros. This increase will affect 10 million people.
  • There are to be guaranteed training places for all school-leavers. The financial assistance for training, the Bafög, is to be reformed.
  • The voting age for Bundestag and European elections is to be lowered to 16. It is currently set at 18.
  • Refugees should in future be able to bring their relatives to Germany more easily. Family reunification for this group is to be made easier.
  • The pension level is to remain stable. It currently stands at 48 percent. This refers to the amount of the pension after 45 years of contributions in relation to an average income. Pensions in Germany have thus far been funded on a pay-as-you-go basis through contributions and state subsidies. In future, pension insurance Pension insurance The statutory pension insurance is the most important pillar of old-age provisions. Its financing is split: The monthly contributions paid by employees and employers pay the pensions of those currently in retirement. Through their contributions, those insured acquire some rights when they… Read more › is to be financed to a small extent through investments on the capital market.
  • Research and development are to be even better funded. The proportion of expenditure based on the gross domestic product is to increase from around 3.2 percent (110 billion euros) to 3.5 percent.

Bundestag election 2021: The results

Wählerin an Wahlurne
© auremar/stock.adobe.com

In the Bundestag The Bundestag The Bundestag is the elected representation of the German people. 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). This… Read more › election on 26 September 2021, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) emerged the winner. It received 25.7 percent of the vote and thus finished just ahead of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and the Christian Social Union in Bavaria Bavaria The “beer state” of Bavaria also produces fine wine in the Franconia region. The Oktoberfest, Neuschwanstein Castle and the magnificent Alpine scenery attract more foreign tourists than does any other federal state. Yet the slogan “Laptop and Lederhose” demonstrates that there is more to Bavaria… Read more › (CSU), which were together chosen by 24.1 percent of voters. Also represented in the new Bundestag are Alliance 90/The Greens (14.8 %), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) with 11.5 percent, and Alternative for Germany (AfD) with 10.3 percent.

Forty-seven parties stood for election

The German Bundestag is elected every four years, as stipulated in the country’s Basic Law. At the election for the 20th German Bundestag, 60.4 million people were eligible to vote – 31.2 million women and 29.2 million men. The number of eligible voters has therefore gone down by around 1.3 million compared to the 2017 Bundestag election. In all, 76.6 percent of the electorate Electorate 61,5 million Germans aged 18 or over are called on to cast a vote in the elections to the Bundestag. Women account for more than 31,7 million of them and thus constitute a majority of the electorate. At the 2017 elections to the Bundestag 3 million persons were enfranchised as first-time voters. Read more › exercised their right to vote (2017: 76.2 %).

Those eligible to vote included 2.8 million people who had reached the age of 18 since the previous Bundestag election and were able to vote for the first time in 2021. They make up 4.6 percent of the electorate. Almost half of all eligible voters live in the three large federal states Federal states Germany is a federal state. Both the central federal government and the 16 federal states have independent areas of jurisdiction. The government in Berlin is responsible for foreign policy, European policy, defense, justice, employment, social affairs, tax and health. The federal states are… Read more › of North Rhine-Westphalia North Rhine-Westphalia No state in Germany has more inhabitants than North Rhine-Westphalia, and there is a correspondingly large number of cities: Cologne, with its Gothic cathedral, Bonn, the Federal Republic’s first capital city, Düsseldorf, the fashion-conscious state capital, Aachen, under the rule of Charlemagne… Read more › (12.8 million), Bavaria Bavaria The “beer state” of Bavaria also produces fine wine in the Franconia region. The Oktoberfest, Neuschwanstein Castle and the magnificent Alpine scenery attract more foreign tourists than does any other federal state. Yet the slogan “Laptop and Lederhose” demonstrates that there is more to Bavaria… Read more › (9.4 million) and Baden-Württemberg (7.7 million). 

Fifty-four parties fulfilling the necessary prerequisites were admitted to the election. Forty-seven of those actually took part.

Personalised proportional representation with first and second votes

The Bundestag The Bundestag The Bundestag is the elected representation of the German people. 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). This… Read more › is elected based on the principle of personalised proportional representation. Voters cast two votes: With the first vote, they select a candidate from their constituency. With the second vote, they support the list of a party, in which that party states whom they wish to be represented in the Bundestag The Bundestag The Bundestag is the elected representation of the German people. 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). This… Read more › . To enter parliament, the parties have to gain at least five percent of the second votes (the “five-percent hurdle”). If a party wins direct mandates in three or more constituencies, meaning the candidates it fields there gain the most first votes, it may also send representatives to the Bundestag.

In the 2021 federal elections Elections Every four years, the parties stand in the general elections to the Bundestag. Traditionally, the turn-out is high in Germany, and following a high in the 1970s, when the turn-out was over 90 percent, since reunification it has been around 80 percent. Read more › , the proportion of postal votes casts totalled 47.3 percent – by way of comparison: In the 2017 elections, the figure was 28.6 percent.