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  Sun, Sep 14, 2014
State Elections in Brandenburg and Thuringia

The German states of Brandenburg and Thuringia also held elections today, and results are now available in their respective official websites, listed on this site's links directory.

Both elections were notable for the success of the anti-euro (but not anti-EU) Alternative for Germany (AfD), which polled strongly and secured legislative representantion in both state parliaments. However, for the liberal Free Democratic Party (F.D.P.) today's polls were yet another round of unmitigated disaster, as the party fell well below the five percent threshold and lost all its seats in both states. In fact, since losing all its Bundestag seats in last year's general election, F.D.P. has finished below five percent in every legislative contest held in Germany this year, including last May's European Parliament election (in which the liberal party nonetheless managed to elect three MEPs as no threshold was in place for that vote), and the state election in Saxony last month. That said, the results for these two parties should not be entirely surprising, given that last year AfD had its best results in the states of the former East Germany, while conversely F.D.P. fared poorly there. Meanwhile, today's results for the other parties were not significantly out of the ordinary, with the exception of the distinctly poor showing of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Thuringia - where it had its worst election result ever and finished a distant third, barely ahead of AfD - and the sharp drop of the Left Party in Brandenburg, where the post-communist party polled its lowest share of the vote in two decades.

posted by Manuel Álvarez-Rivera : 09/14/2014 19:52 | permanent link

  Sat, Sep 28, 2013
One week after Bundestag election, Germany inches towards a grand coalition government
The leaders of Germany's main opposition party, the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) agreed yesterday to begin talks on forming a coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling right-of-center Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian counterpart, the Christian Social Union (CSU). However, any agreement between the Union parties and the Social Democrats will have to be approved by SPD's 472,000 members in a binding vote.

In last Sunday's election to the Bundestag - the lower chamber of Germany's bicameral Parliament - CDU/CSU won a clear victory over SPD, which scored minor gains but still polled its second-worst result in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany. However, CDU/CSU's coalition partner, the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) fell just below the five percent threshold needed to secure parliamentary representation, and lost all its seats in the Bundestag for the first time ever; in turn, this left Chancellor Merkel without an overall legislative majority. While the exclusion of both FDP and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) - a new Euro-sceptic party that polled strongly, but also fell short of the five percent hurdle - allowed the country's three main left-wing parties - SPD, the environmentalist Greens and the post-Communist Left - to win a small combined majority in the Bundestag, SPD leaders have repeatedly made it clear they will not join forces with The Left, which remains widely reviled in western Germany as the successor of East Germany's defunct Communist Party.

Nevertheless, the Social Democrats had been reluctant to join CDU/CSU in a coalition government, not least because the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats - Germany's two major parties since 1949 - have been traditional adversaries. Just as important, Merkel's successive coalition partners - SPD itself in 2005-2009 and FDP from 2009 to 2013 - went on to suffer heavy losses at the polls, and many SPD members fear history could repeat itself if the party agrees once more to form a coalition government with Merkel. However, at this juncture the only other alternatives would be a coalition between the Union parties and the Greens - generally regarded as highly unlikely - or a minority CDU/CSU government, which Merkel has already ruled out. Moreover, post-election polls indicate a large majority of German voters want the Chancellor to form a coalition government with the Social Democrats.

Although both the Greens and The Left lost ground in last Sunday's election, the latter became Germany's third largest party for the first time ever. However, differences in voting patterns persist on both sides of the now-defunct Iron Curtain, twenty-three years after reunification: while The Left finished a poor fifth in the "old Länder" of the former West Germany, it remains the second largest party in the "new Länder" of the former German Democratic Republic. On the other hand, FDP managed to finish just above the five percent threshold in western Germany, but the party's disastrous result in eastern Germany dragged its share of the vote below the critical hurdle. That said, CDU topped the poll in every Länder it ran except Hamburg and Bremen (both carried by SPD), while CSU swept in Bavaria.

Elections to the German Bundestag has detailed results of every Bundestag election since 1949, including last Sunday's vote, which was held under a reformed electoral system intended to guarantee a fully proportional distribution of Bundestag seats among qualifying parties. Ironically, the exclusion of FDP, AfD and a host of smaller parties - most notably among them the digital privacy/rights-oriented Pirate Party, which scored modest gains compared to its previous showing four years ago - led to an unusually disproportionate election outcome, as a record 15.7% of the votes cast for party lists were "wasted" on parties that failed to make it to the Bundestag.

posted by Manuel Álvarez-Rivera : 09/28/2013 18:03 | permanent link

  Sun, Sep 22, 2013
Germany's ruling coalition could lose majority - exit polls (updated)
Exit polls from German broadcasters ARD and ZDF suggest that Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling CDU/CSU-FDP coalition could lose its Bundestag majority in today's federal election.

While both the ARD and ZDF exit polls place Merkel's CDU and CSU - the CDU's counterpart in Bavaria - sixteen percentage points ahead of SPD, the main opposition party, both polls have the liberal FDP falling just short of the five percent threshold needed to secure Bundestag representation. Moreover, CDU/CSU alone would fall short of an overall parliamentary majority, with SPD, the Left Party and the environmentalist Greens attaining a slender joint lead over the Union parties.

Meanwhile, the Euro-sceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD), while polling strongly for a new party, would also fall short of the five percent threshold, although just barely.


ARD and ZDF have both made small adjustments to their forecasts, which point to a very small CDU/CSU absolute majority over the left-wing parties. However, AfD is now just one-tenth of a point below the five percent threshold in both exit poll forecasts; if it were to cross the threshold, CDU/CSU would then end up well short of a Bundestag majority.


The Federal Returning Officer is now publishing live 2013 Bundestag election results in German and English. Meanwhile, exit poll numbers have been dancing back and forth on the prospect of a CDU/CSU absolute majority in the Bundestag.

I'm also commenting on today's vote in Germany over at the Fruits and Votes blog.

Elections to the German Bundestag now has detailed federal- and state-level preliminary results of today's vote in Germany.

posted by Manuel Álvarez-Rivera : 09/22/2013 20:47 | permanent link

  Sun, Sep 15, 2013
Germany's Reformed Electoral System
As noted in Elections to the German Bundestag, this year's parliamentary election in Germany will be held under a reformed electoral system that introduces adjustment seats, in order to guarantee a fully proportional allocation of Bundestag seats among qualifying parties.

While the recently enacted reform does not change the basic functioning of Germany's Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system (described here), it introduces a new, two-tier mechanism for the nationwide distribution of Bundestag mandates. In the first stage, a non-binding allocation of seats among qualifying parties is carried out in each one of Germany's sixteen Länder by the Sainte-Laguë/Schepers method of PR. However, if a party secures more constituency seats in the first vote of a particular Land than the number of seats it would be entitled to according to the result of the second vote, it keeps the extra seats at this stage.

(Under Sainte-Laguë/Schepers, the distribution of seats is obtained by dividing party votes by a divisor or quota, such that the sum of party seats - the resulting quotients, with fractions greater than 0.5 rounded up to the next whole number - will be equal to the total number of seats to be filled.)

Had the new mechanism been in place for the 2009 Bundestag election, and had voters cast their ballots in the same manner, the initial allocation of seats would have stood as follows:

   Land       Seats   
         SPD       CDU       CSU       GRÜNE       FDP       DIE
   Schleswig-Holstein       6       9               3       4       2       24   
   Mecklenburg-Vorpommern       3       6               1       1       4       15   
   Hamburg       3       4               2       2       1       12   
   Niedersachsen       19       21               7       8       5       60   
   Bremen       2       1               1               1       5   
   Brandenburg       6       5               1       2       6       20   
   Sachsen-Anhalt       3       6               1       2       6       18   
   Berlin       5       6               5       3       5       24   
   Nordrhein-Westfalen       38       45               14       20       11       128   
   Sachsen       5       16               2       5       8       36   
   Hessen       12       15               5       7       4       43   
   Thüringen       3       7               1       2       6       19   
   Rheinland-Pfalz       8       13               3       5       3       32   
   Bayern       17               45       11       14       6       93   
   Baden-Württemberg       16       37               11       15       6       85   
   Saarland       2       4               1       1       2       10   
   Total       148       195       45       69       91       76       624   

The total number of seats won by each one of the six qualifying parties is the minimum number of mandates the party would be entitled to receive at the federal level. The number of second votes won by each qualifying party would then be divided by its corresponding seat total from the preceding allocation, minus 0.5:

SPD:    9,990,488 

= 67,732
CDU:    11,828,277 

= 60,813
CSU:    2,830,238 

= 63,600
GRÜNE:    4,643,272 

= 67,784
FDP:    6,316,080 

= 69,790
DIE LINKE:    5,155,933 

= 68,290

The votes-to-seats minus 0.5 quotients show a significant deviation from full proportionality - with quotients ranging from a low of 60,813 for CDU to a high of 69,790 for FDP - largely due to the allocation of twenty-six overhang mandates (22 CDU, 3 CSU and one SPD). The distribution of seats on a Land-by-Land basis would have also introduced a distorting effect, but it would have been comparatively minuscule: had overhang seats been disregarded at this stage, the quotients would have fluctuated between 67,784 and 69,790.

At any rate, in the second stage the number of second votes polled by each one of the qualifying parties would have been divided by the smallest of the aforementioned quotients, with remainders larger than 0.5 rounded up to the next whole number, to obtain the definitive nationwide distribution of Bundestag seats:

SPD:    9,990,488 

= 164.2821107 = 164 seats
CDU:    11,828,277 

= 194.5024419 = 195 seats
CSU:    2,830,238 

= 46.5400161 = 47 seats
GRÜNE:    4,643,272 

= 76.3532797 = 76 seats
FDP:    6,316,080 

= 103.8606877 = 104 seats
DIE LINKE:    5,155,933 

= 84.7834016 = 85 seats

This would conclude the allocation of seats at the federal level, and the mandates obtained by each party would then be distributed among its Land lists; the results of the initial Land-level allocation of seats would be discarded at this point.

Under the previous electoral system, party mandates were proportionally allocated among its Land lists, but if a Land list received fewer seats than its corresponding number of direct mandates, it kept the overhang seats, and the size of the Bundestag was increased accordingly. However, under the new electoral system, the allocation of Bundestag seats at the federal level is definitive and cannot be altered by the distribution of party mandates at the Land level. As such, in the event one or more party Land lists receive fewer seats than the corresponding number of constituency seats won by the party, the allocation divisor would be increased until each one of the party's Land lists received a number of seats equal to the larger of its rounded quotient, or its corresponding number of direct mandates.

Nonetheless, in most cases all the Land lists of a given party secure a proportional allocation larger than or equal to their corresponding number of constituency seats, and in such instances the system remains essentially unchanged from past Bundestag elections, the main difference being the actual PR method used for the distribution of seats (d'Hondt from 1957 to 1983, Hare/Niemeyer from 1987 to 2005, Sainte-Laguë/Schepers since 2009). For example, the Land-level allocation of SPD mandates according to the Sainte-Laguë/Schepers method would have produced the following results (with a divisor of 60,541):

   Land    Votes    Quotient    Seats   
            Total    Direct    List   
   Schleswig-Holstein    430,739    7.114831    7    2    5   
   Mecklenburg-Vorpommern    143,607    2.372062    2    0    2   
   Hamburg    242,942    4.012851    4    3    1   
   Niedersachsen    1,297,940    21.439025    21    14    7   
   Bremen    102,419    1.691730    2    2    0   
   Brandenburg    348,216    5.751738    6    5    1   
   Sachsen-Anhalt    202,850    3.350622    3    0    3   
   Berlin    348,082    5.749525    6    2    4   
   Nordrhein-Westfalen    2,678,956    44.250277    44    27    17   
   Sachsen    328,753    5.430254    5    0    5   
   Hessen    812,721    13.424307    13    6    7   
   Thüringen    216,593    3.577625    4    0    4   
   Rheinland-Pfalz    520,990    8.605573    9    2    7   
   Bayern    1,120,018    18.500157    19    0    19   
   Baden-Württemberg    1,051,198    17.363407    17    1    16   
   Saarland    144,464    2.386218    2    0    2   

As in past elections, any direct mandates won by a party in a particular Land would be deducted from its proportional seat allocation. Thus, the 27 constituency seats won by SPD in Nordrhein-Westfalen would be subtracted from its proportional allocation of 44 seats, and the party would be awarded seventeen list seats in that Land.

However, in the case of CDU the number of constituency seats won by the party would exceed its Land list seat allocation in several Länder, which would require the allocation divisor to be increased from 60,658 to 68,400, with the following results:

   Land    Votes    Quotient    Seats   
            Total    Direct    List   
   Schleswig-Holstein    518,457    7.579781    9    9    0   
   Mecklenburg-Vorpommern    287,481    4.202939    6    6    0   
   Hamburg    246,667    3.606243    4    3    1   
   Niedersachsen    1,471,530    21.513596    22    16    6   
   Bremen    80,964    1.183684    1    0    1   
   Brandenburg    327,454    4.787339    5    1    4   
   Sachsen-Anhalt    362,311    5.296944    5    4    1   
   Berlin    393,180    5.748246    6    5    1   
   Nordrhein-Westfalen    3,111,478    45.489444    45    37    8   
   Sachsen    800,898    11.709035    16    16    0   
   Hessen    1,022,822    14.953538    15    15    0   
   Thüringen    383,778    5.610789    7    7    0   
   Rheinland-Pfalz    767,487    11.220570    13    13    0   
   Baden-Württemberg    1,874,481    27.404693    37    37    0   
   Saarland    179,289    2.621184    4    4    0   

Thus, party Land lists still retain their corresponding overhang mandates (if any), but now these will be proportionally deducted from the party's lists in the remaining Länder.

The final distribution of seats in the 2009 Bundestag election would have then stood as follows:

   Land       Seats   
         SPD       CDU       CSU       GRÜNE       FDP       DIE
   Schleswig-Holstein       7       9               3       4       2       25   
   Mecklenburg-Vorpommern       2       6               1       1       4       14   
   Hamburg       4       4               2       2       2       14   
   Niedersachsen       21       22               8       10       6       67   
   Bremen       2       1               1       1       1       6   
   Brandenburg       6       5               1       2       7       21   
   Sachsen-Anhalt       3       5               1       2       6       17   
   Berlin       6       6               5       3       6       26   
   Nordrhein-Westfalen       44       45               16       23       13       141   
   Sachsen       5       16               2       5       9       37   
   Hessen       13       15               6       9       5       48   
   Thüringen       4       7               1       2       6       20   
   Rheinland-Pfalz       9       13               4       6       3       35   
   Bayern       19               47       12       16       7       101   
   Baden-Württemberg       17       37               12       17       6       89   
   Saarland       2       4               1       1       2       10   
   Total       164       195       47       76       104       85       671   

While the new electoral system would have increased the size of the Bundestag by 49 seats, to a total of 671, it would not have substantially changed the outcome of the 2009 Bundestag election: incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel would still have been able to form a CDU/CSU-FDP coalition government, albeit with a parliamentary majority cut in half (from 332-290 to 346-325) when compared to the actual election outcome.

posted by Manuel Álvarez-Rivera : 09/15/2013 19:34 | permanent link