Another "stolen" election?


Registered Member
As you probably know from my postings in the past weeks, there are general elections in Germany next sunday.

Chancellor Merkel (Christian Democrats) is running for a 2nd term -- and polls suggest she will likely be able to do so, this time not in a "grand coalition" with the major center-left party of the Social Democrats (SPD), but in a "small black-yellow coalition" with the libertarian FDP.

But the SPD is gaining in polls:

Merkel's CDU/CSU and libertarian FDP together reach 49% of the votes -- the left camp of SPD, Green Party and socialist Left Party together reaches 47%.


Although the SPD has denied a cooperation with the socialist Left Party, which means a majority for the left camp won't result in a left-leaning government, the CDU/CSU and FDP together have to reach more votes than all other three parties together -- or the result will be another stalemate as in 2005, when both large parties had to form a "grand coalition".

If Merkel again fails to win a majority with her favorite partner FDP, and maybe even falls below the 2005 result of 35.2%, that would be considered a major defeat.

But even if that happens, a particularity of the German proportional election system may help Merkel's CDU/CSU to win a majority of seats:

The so called "Überhangmandate" (="overriding mandates").

Now it gets complicated: In Germany, you have two votes, one for the party you like to vote for, and one for your favorite candidate in a constituency.

Usually, the party vote matters: According to proportional representation, the seats are distributed over all parties above 5%, according to their percentage. That makes sure small parties which don't win any candidates in constituencies are proportionally represented.

But the candidate vote is tricky: Usually, a party hardly wins more constituencies with their candidates than it deserves seats according to the party vote. In these cases, the candidate vote does not matter for the final distribution of seats -- the percentage stays the same, just the winners of the constituencies get their seats first, before candidates from national party lists get their seats.

But this time, Merkel's CDU/CSU may win much more constituencies, than they get seats due to proportional representation! That is because the CDU/CSU is rather weak in polls, at only around 35%, yet still is by far the strongest party, because their major competitor, the SPD, is doing very bad, in polls at around 25% and thus 10% behind the CDU/CSU.

In this case, additional seats are set to the parliament, resulting in a distortion of proportional representation in favor of the CDU/CSU!

Experts estimate Merkel's CDU/CSU may even win 20 or more of these "override mandates" -- enough to make sure there is a CDU/CSU and FDP majority, even if these two parties don't win more votes than the other three parties combined.

Merkel has now announced that in that case, she would still form her favorite small coalition with the libertarian FDP -- causing outrage on the left side of the political spectrum, where the word is going about a "stolen" election.


This is even the more controversial, as the Constitutional Court (highest court) has ruled already this current electoral system is unconstitutional -- but it determined the system must not be changed before 2011, so this election is not affected yet.

The German Parliament Bundestag

So are we up for a "stolen election" debate next sunday? Let's wait and see ...