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Do minorities have their own parties?

The 2021 German federal election – key questions and answers surrounding the election of the country’s new parliament.

Polling stations are often located in schools.
Polling stations are often located in schools. © picture alliance/dpa

On 26 September 2021 voters in Germany will be electing a new parliament – the Bundestag. The members of parliament will then elect Angela Merkel’s successor, as she is not standing for re-election after serving for 16 years as chancellor.

Who is entitled to vote?

There are 83.1 million people living in Germany. German citizens over the age of 18 are entitled to vote, that is 60.4 million people. German citizens who are living abroad have to make a formal application to be included in the electoral register. All other entitled citizens are automatically eligible to vote in their constituency without having to register or make an application. Postal votes are always possible. Almost half of the eligible voters are currently living in the three federal North Rhine-Westphalia (12.8 million), Bavaria (9.4 million) and Baden-Württemberg (7.7 million). The 11.4 million foreign citizens living in Germany are not entitled to vote in the federal election. states of

How does voting work in Germany?

The electoral system is a system of personalized proportional representation. In each of the 299 constituencies the first vote is cast to directly elect a person. The second vote is cast to elect a party. The 598 seats in the Bundestag are filled in this way. If a party gains more directly elected seats than its proportion of second votes, the Bundestag is expanded to ensure that the proportion of the members of parliament corresponds with that of the second votes. As a result of these 111 ‘overhang seats’ and the balancing out process, the Bundestag currently has 709 seats. An electoral law reform has now been started in two steps to reduce the number of seats again. For the 2021 election the first step has changed the calculation basis for the overhang seats, and in 2025 the number of constituencies is scheduled to be reduced.

How many parties are standing for election?

54 parties have applied for admission to the election, and 47 of these are now actually standing – more than in any previous election for the Bundestag. To enter the Bundestag each party has to receive at least 5 per cent of the votes cast. The parties that passed the 5 per cent hurdle for the 19th Bundestag in 2017 were the CDU/CSU, SPD, the Greens, FDP, The Left and the AfD.

Do minorities have their own parties?

In Germany there are four state-recognized minorities: Sorbs, Danes, Frisians and the German Sinti and Roma. There is only a special party for the Danes and Frisians in Schleswig-Holstein, the South Schleswig Voters Union (SSW). It is standing for election to the Bundestag for the first time in 2021. The SSW has a good chance of gaining a seat, because it is exempted from the 5 per cent clause as a protected minority. This means that the calculated average number of votes needed for a single mandate is sufficient for the party to be represented.


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