This last Sunday was the Big Vote in the Germany (take note, Americans: election day happens on a weekend, when EVERYONE can partake! They had 76% voter turnout – compared to our 55%). The day marked whether our Tante Angie (Aunt Angie – Angela Merkel) would be reelected or if her position would go to the rival party leader Martin Schulz.
For those of you not familiar with German politics: here’s a quick run down.
Everyone is familiar with the big two American parties: Democrats and Republicans. Germany has SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschland) and CDU (Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschland) and their Bavarian counterpart (Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern). Also like the US, there are other smaller parties (US: Libertarian, Green, Independent, etc), but those parties have more ‘power’ than the American smaller parties because of their ability to form a coalition with one of the bigger parties (more on that later).
Here is a great list (from Wikipedia) of all the German Parties:
Got it? Good. Just like with the American Presidency, the Chancellor will always come from one of the two big parties. The question is then which of the smaller parties will join with which to form a coalition (essentially parties joining together over similar issues that they would like seen brought to the floor. A coalition allows for parties to work together instead of the current American system of putting party before country).
Here’s a great demographic from the Washington Post showing all of the Chancellors since the end of World War II along with their coalitions.
I personally like this system because it helps keep people from being forced to choose between literally only one of two options.
So how does the voting work? There are essentially two votes for every German.
- Germans vote for their direct representative from their district to go to German Parliament (also known as the Bundestag). There are 299 districts in Germany and each winner gets a seat in the Bundestag.
- Germans then vote for the the ‘governing party.’ This is done at the federal state level (there are sixteen in Germany). The remaining seats in the Bundestag are made up based on the percentage of votes each party gets. Say a party receives 10% of the votes, then their winners get the first round of seats and then more representatives fill in the other seats until they reach 10%. Each party has to have a minimum of 3 direct winners or 5% of the vote to have representation in the Bundestag. This is in response to pre-WWII when any party would get representation at all as long as they had any votes and the Nazi party made it into the Bundestag with a measly 3% of the vote; the rest is history.
What were the projections of this election? Merkel will win, showing the world that despite the refugee situation and allowing for gay marriage in Germany – the Germans still believe that they made the right choice with Merkel (although, really her Party) and believe that she (and her party) will continue to make Germany great (see what I did there?).
Side note: No, Germany is and has not been going to hell with Merkel as Chancellor, despite what your racist uncle on Facebook posts. He doesn’t live in Germany; I do, so trust me. Since the refugees have flooded into Germany, the inhabitants of the Land of Beer and Pretzels have actually not noticed a difference in their everyday lives – aside from the feeling of having helped a fellow human in need.
The other projection is that the small (and very annoying) AfD – Alternativ für Deutschland – will steadily grow in percentage again.
The results are these (according to Welt.de)….
CDU/CSU won the majority with 33%, thus getting 246 seats in Parliament. Although this directly means that we have another four years of Merkel (which will, in the end, total 16 years for Germany’s first female chancellor), the number is still considered a bad result for the CDU/CSU (the last time they had such a low number was in 1949).
SPD had 20.5% and considered the worst result in the history of the party. They have 153 seats.
FDP – 10.7% / 80 Seats
Linke – 9.2% / 69 Seats
Grün – 8.9% / 67 Seats
AfD got 12.6% making them now the third largest part in Parliament with 94 seats. Ugh. I really dislike this party (considering their stances on immigration and women – both of which affect me directly). But at least they are a small enough number combined with the fact that no other party wants to create a coalition with them – hopefully it will keep them in their place.
What other news broke out (concerning coalitions) was that the SPD no longer wants to work in conjunction with CDU/CSU. The Grand Coalition is over which means that CDU/CSU has to pick a new partner. There has been talk of creating a “Jamaica coalition” which combines CDU/CSU (black), Grün (green), and FDP (yellow), leaving SPD as “the opposition.” Which is ironic since AfD is literally the opposition to pretty much everyone else, so this will be interesting. However, Schulz commented that one of the reasons for leaving the coalition was to keep AfD from having the position of being the “official” opposition and therefore not reap the benefits that such a position entails.
At least having a woman still as chancellor means we don’t have to worry about a dick measuring contest with other foreign powers……like you know who….
Bis nächste Woche!
2 thoughts on “Election Day in Germany”
Great post! Politics is hard enough to understand, and then when your adoptive country does things so differently from your passport country… I think voting on Sunday would never work in the US, mainly because of football. I don’t know many people who would skip a football game (especially if they had tickets to the actual game) to vote. I know quite a few people for whom church is very important…except when the Packers play at noon.
Yeah Sunday wouldn’t work – but I think at least making it a federal holiday like on a Monday or something. So many other countries make this work so why can’t we? Can’t wait to see you Friday!!!!!!