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Deutscher Bundestag (German Bundestag)

Compare data for parliamentary chambers in the Last elections module

A historical Archive of past election results for this chamber can be found on a separate page

Parliament name -
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name (generic / translated) Deutscher Bundestag / German Bundestag
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Bundesrat / Federal Council
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 27 September 2009
Purpose of elections Elections were held for all seats in the German Bundestag on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.
The 2009 parliamentary elections were held against the backdrop of the global economic crisis, which severely affected the country's automobile industry. In September 2008, the government announced a rescue package involving 4.5 billion euros in loans and credit guarantees.

In the previous elections to the German Bundestag, which were held in September 2005, Ms. Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) took 180 seats. The CDU's sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU, standing only in Bavaria) won 46 seats. The CDU/CSU coalition thus took 226 seats in all, slightly more than then Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's Social Democratic Party (SPD), which won 222 seats. In November, after seven weeks of negotiation, the CDU/CSU and the SPD agreed to form a grand coalition, the second in German history. Ms. Merkel was subsequently elected as Chancellor, becoming the first woman in Germany to assume the post.

The CDU and the SPD disagreed on many issues. In the 2009 elections, Chancellor Merkel's CDU sought to win more seats so as to form a new coalition government with the Free Democratic Party (FDP). The FDP, led by Mr. Guido Westerwelle, is known for its pro-business policies based on the free market economy. It had been a member of the CDU-led coalition government between 1982 and 1998.

In July 2009, the CSU, led by Mr. Horst Seehofer, opposed the country's ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, aimed at improving the decision-making process of the European Union (EU). It argued that the German Parliament had to approve EU decisions for them to be binding on Germany. After Parliament's approval was obtained on 23 September, President Horst Koehler signed a law to ratify the Lisbon Treaty.

Despite the row, however, the CDU announced that it intended to maintain its partnership with the CSU after the 2009 elections. The CDU/CSU was challenged by Mr. Franz Müntefering's SPD, whose candidate for Chancellor was Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The major parties focused on the economy and nuclear energy in the 2009 election campaign.

Chancellor Merkel argued that a CDU/CSU-FDP coalition was the only way to guarantee economic stability in Germany. The CDU pledged to revive the country's economy by creating more jobs and combating unemployment. It also promised tax cuts and greater investment in education. The FDP promised to reduce the State's involvement in economic policy and opposed the introduction of a minimum wage proposed by the SPD. The latter vowed to introduce a minimum wage of 7.50 euros per hour and to create four million jobs within the next 10 years. The Green Party opposed the CDU's tax-cut plan and promised to introduce a minimum fixed pension for anyone who had worked for at least 33 years. It called on voters to prevent the formation of a CDU-FDP coalition, which, in its view, would allocate less money for education and measures to fight global warming.

In terms of nuclear energy policy, the SPD vowed to stick to plans to decommission all German nuclear power stations by 2020, while the CDU and the FDP pledged to delay the process and reduce energy prices for consumers.

In June 2007, the Party of Democratic Socialism (the successor to the communist party that had ruled East Germany) and the WASG (a group of trade unionists and former SPD members based in western Germany) had formed the Left Party under the leadership of Mr. Oskar Lafontaine, a former SPD leader. SPD leader Steinmeier ruled out forming a government with the Left Party after the 2009 elections and criticized its call for the immediate withdrawal of German troops from the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

An initial opinion poll showed the CDU and the SPD running neck and neck. The local media reported that overhang seats (see note) would determine the outcome of the election since the major parties were expected to win most of the 299 seats elected from the constituencies (first votes) but would not win the same share of seats allocated to parties (second votes).

In all, 70.78 per cent of the 62 million registered voters turned out at the polls.

The 2009 elections resulted in the creation of a record 24 overhang seats, up from 16 in the 2005 elections, bringing the total number of seats in the new legislature to 622. The final results gave 194 seats to the CDU, 14 more than it had in the 2005 elections. The CSU took 45 seats. The CDU/CSU's future coalition partner, the FDP, won 93, up from 61, giving Ms. Merkel's camp a total of 332 seats. In its worst showing since the end of World War II, the SPD lost 76 seats, dropping to 146. Its rival, the Left Party, won 76 seats, 22 more than in the outgoing legislature. The Green Party took 68, 17 more than in 2005.

On 27 October, the newly elected German Bundestag held its first session and re-elected Mr. Norbert Lammert (CDU) as its Speaker. The following day, it re-elected Ms. Merkel as Chancellor. Her second government comprised the CDU/CSU and the FDP.

Note on overhang seats (Überhangmandate):
In the German electoral system, each voter has two votes: a first vote for an individual candidate in one of the constituencies, and a second vote for the party list drawn up for each of the Länder by each political party. In each Land, every party is entitled to the number of seats that corresponds to its share in the second votes. If a party wins more seats in the constituencies on the first vote than it is entitled to by the results of the second vote calculation, it can keep the additional seats, called "overhang seats" (Überhangmandate). In March 2008, the German Bundestag revised the electoral law so as to correct a possible paradox whereby an increase in the seats apportioned leads to a decrease in the number of seats a party holds. As of the 2009 elections, seats are distributed according to the Sainte-Laguë/Schepers method instead of the Hare/Niemeyer method (largest remainder method).

Under the current electoral system, many overhang seats are created if the winning party in the second vote has a relatively low share of the votes but a huge lead over the party that comes second. In the past, there were fewer overhang seats since two major parties - the CDU/CSU and the SPD - dominated the party vote, winning close to 50 per cent each. In recent years, they have still won most seats in the constituencies (first vote) but not the party votes (second vote), since there are more parliamentary parties. The discrepancies between their shares of the first and second votes have resulted in more overhang seats.

In July 2008, the Constitutional Court ruled that the "paradoxical effect (negative vote weight)" in connection with the overhang seats was unconstitutional and ordered the German Bundestag to revise the electoral law by 2011. The paradox arises when the difference between the share of the first and second votes reduces. In such case, an increase in the total number of seats apportioned under the second vote leads to a decrease in the number of seats a party holds. In recent years, major parties reportedly tried to win more overhang seats. In the 2005 elections, the CDU reportedly urged voters in one district to leave the second ballot blank to avoid the paradoxical effect. The 2008 court ruling was a result of two citizens' initiative.
Voter turnout
Round no 127 September 2009
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
44'005'575 (70.78%)
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total Gain/Loss
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) 194 14
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 146 -76
Free Democratic Party (FDP) 93 32
Left Party (Linkspartei) 76 22
Green Party 68 17
Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU) 45 -1
Distribution of seats according to sex
Percent of women
Distribution of seats according to age
21 to 30 years
31 to 40 years
41 to 50 years
51 to 60 years
61 to 70 years
Over 70 years
Distribution of seats according to profession
Legal profession 115
Architect, surveyor, engineer 86
Civil service and local authority administration 82
Others 81
Education profession 45
Research/sciences 39
Political party official 36
Theologians 24
Writer, literary, artist 18
Journalism, broadcasting, media 17
Agriculture/farming 12
Physician, dentist 11
Finance, management or business 11
Entrepreneur 10
Economist 10
Armed services/Police 10
Nursing 9
Clerical, secretarial, administration 6
- Federal Diet (29.09.2009, 15.02.2010, 14.12.2012)
- http://www.bundeswahlleiter.de/

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