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Germany goes to the polls

Around 60.4 million people are eligible to cast their votes in the 2021 German general elections. Read on for more facts and figures on the election of the new parliament.
Wählerin an Wahlurne
© auremar/stock.adobe.com

The German Bundestag is elected every four years, as stipulated in the country’s Basic Law. The election for the 20th German Bundestag will take place on 26 September 2021, with 60.4 million people 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.

Those eligible to vote include 2.8 million people who have turned 18 since the last general 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 › and are now able to vote for the first time. They make up 4.6 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 › . 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).

There are 54 parties admitted to the election that fulfil the necessary prerequisites. In the 2017 general election there were 48, of which 42 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 Germany, absentee voting is possible and eligible voters need not give a specific reason for this. In the 2017 general 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 absentee voters came to 28.6 percent.