Parliamentary Chamber: Deutscher Bundestag


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  Deutscher Bundestag

Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  27 September 1998

Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all seats in the Bundestag on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.

Background and outcome of elections:

  In the 1998 general elections, the ruling coalition comprising the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister party known as the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) was once again primarily challenged by the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Their respective candidates for Chancellor (Head of the Federal Government) were the incumbent, Mr. Helmut Kohl (CDU), and Mr. Gerhard Schroeder (SPD).

During the seven-month campaign, the personalities of these two leaders appeared as siginficant to the electorate as debate on policy issues. Mr. Schroeder, presenting himself as the candidate of renewal and innovation, stressed that it was time for a change after 16 years of government headed by Mr. Kohl. He criticized the latter for failing to reduce the unemployment rate but, vis--vis foreign policy, pledged continuity in the country’s stances. All in all, Mr. Schroeder advocated a pragmatic pursuit of a new centrist orientation, or Third Way , in German politics. Chancellor Kohl countered by standing on his long experience and solid record which had brought stability and security to the country, especially in foreign affairs.

Polling day saw a high turnout as the SPD turned the tables on the ruling coalition, picking up an additional 46 seats to emerge with a margin of 53. In winning, the Social Democrats, led by Mr. Oskar Lafontaine, also captured 13 surplus overhang mandates (see "Electoral System", above). The CDU/CSU alliance emerged with 245 seats (198 for the CDU, 47 for the CSU). Among the smaller parties, the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) maintained its largely east-German-based following in gaining five seats. Given the overall outcome, Mr. Kohl resigned as head of the CDU after 25 years at its helm but retained a Bundestag seat although he lost in his home constitutency. After obtaining the support of the Green party, led by Mr. Joschka Fischer, Mr. Schroeder became Chancellor on October 27 at the head of a "Red-Green" alliance which held a total of 345 parliamentary seats. His center-left Cabinet was sworn in the same day.

Round no 1 (27 September 1998): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 60,762,751
Voters 49,947,087 (82.2)%
Blank or invalid "first votes" 780,507
Valid "first votes" 49,166,580
Blank or invalid "second votes" 638,575
Valid "second votes" 49,308,512

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group %
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 40.9
Christian Democratic Union (CDU)/
Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU)
Alliance 90/The Greens 6.7
Free Democratic Party (FDP) 6.2
Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) 5.1

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total Proportional Majority Gain/Loss
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 298 86 212 +46
Christian Democratic Union (CDU)/
Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU)
245 133 112 -49
Alliance 90/The Greens 47 47 0 -2
Free Democratic Party (FDP) 43 43 0 -4
Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) 36 31 4 +6

  Including 13 "overhang" mandates, which totalled three less than in 1994

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 462
Women: 207

Distribution of seats according to age:  
Below 30 years 9
31-40 years 54
41-50 years 158
51-60 years 322
61-70 years 121
Over 70 years 5

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Copyright 1998 Inter-Parliamentary Union