Next German federal election

Next German federal election

On or before 24 October 2021

All 598 seats in the Bundestag (overhang and leveling seats possible)
300+ seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls

Leader Angela Merkel Andrea Nahles Jörg Meuthen
Alexander Gauland
Leader since 10 April 2000 22 April 2018 2 December 2017
Leader's seat Vorpommern-Rügen – Vorpommern-Greifswald I Rhineland-Palatinate
Last election 246 seats, 32.9% 153 seats, 20.5% 94 seats, 12.6%


Leader Christian Lindner Katja Kipping
Bernd Riexinger
Annalena Baerbock
Robert Habeck
Party FDP Left Green
Leader since 7 December 2013 2 June 2012 27 January 2018
Leader's seat North Rhine-Westphalia Saxony
Last election 80 seats, 10.7% 69 seats, 9.2% 67 seats, 8.9%

Incumbent Chancellor

Angela Merkel

The next German federal election for the 20th Bundestag will be held no later than 24 October 2021.


Jamaica coalition talks

The 2017 federal elections were held after a four-year grand coalition between the CDU/CSU and SPD. Though the CDU/CSU was returned with more seats than any other party, both it and the SPD suffered significant losses. The SPD leadership, recognizing the party's unsatisfactory performance after four years in government, announced that it would go into opposition.[1] With the CDU/CSU having pledged not to work with either the AfD nor The Left before the elections, the only remaining option for a majority government is a Jamaica coalition consisting of the CDU/CSU, FDP, and the Greens. Incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she would pursue coalition talks with the FDP and the Greens, both of which are open to the possibility of a Jamaica coalition.[2] On 9 October, Merkel announced that exploratory talks for a Jamaica coalition with the CDU, CSU, FDP, and Greens would begin on 18 October 2017.[3]

By the final days of the preliminary talks, the four parties had not arrived at an agreement on migration and climate issues.[4] Preliminary talks between the Jamaica parties collapsed past midnight on 20 November after the FDP withdrew, arguing that the talks had failed to produce a common vision or trust. Following the FDP's withdrawal, Merkel expressed regret, with the Union parties having believed that they were on the way to achieving an agreement, saying that the CDU/CSU would in the next week "continue to assume responsibility", the Greens criticized the FDP for having shirked its responsibility, and the SPD continued to reject the possibility of a grand coalition. Merkel stated that she would consult with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.[5] In the afternoon, Steinmeier implored the parties to reconsider, speaking with the leaders of the parties, including the SPD,[6] hoping to avoid new elections by ensuring the formation of a coalition government.[7]

Grand coalition talks

Steinmeier invited Merkel, Seehofer, and Schulz to meet on 30 November, after the SPD indicated that it would no longer rule out a grand coalition following a meeting between Schulz and Steinmeier on 23 November.[8] After internal disagreements, the SPD leadership eventually voted on 15 December to support exploratory talks with the CDU/CSU for a renewed grand coalition.[9] After seven hours of talks on 20 December, the CDU/CSU and SPD agreed to conduct exploratory talks from 7 to 12 January 2018.[10] The talks concluded successfully with a 28-page exploratory paper drawn up. SPD members will vote at a party congress in Bonn on 21 January on whether to open formal coalition talks.[11]

Before the congress, the SPD state associations of Lower Saxony, Hesse, Saarland, Hamburg, and Brandenburg voted in support of a renewed grand coalition, those of Berlin, Thuringia, and Saxony-Anhalt voted against (although the votes on the latter two resolutions were non-binding), while eight other state associations did not vote on a resolution before the congress. A total of 600 delegates were present at the party congress; North Rhine-Westphalia, with 144 delegates, sent the most.[12] In addition, the 45 members of the party's presidium also had the right to participate in the vote. At the party congress, the SPD voted in favor of coalition talks, with 362 delegates in favor, 279 against, and 1 abstention.[13] On 7 February, the parties arrived at a coalition agreement for the new cabinet.[14] The 463,723 members of the SPD voted on whether to approve the deal from 20 February to 2 March,[15][16] with the result announced on 4 March. A total of 78.39% of members cast valid votes, of which 66.02% voted in favor of another grand coalition.[17] Merkel was voted in by the Bundestag for a fourth term as Chancellor on 14 March, with 364 votes for, 315 against, 9 abstentions, and 4 invalid votes – 9 more votes than the 355 needed for a majority.[18]

Electoral system

Germany uses the mixed-member proportional representation system, a system of proportional representation combined with elements of first-past-the-post voting. The Bundestag has 598 nominal members, elected for a four-year term; these seats are distributed between the sixteen German states in proportion to the states' population eligible to vote.[19]

Every elector has two votes: a constituency vote (first vote) and a party list vote (second vote). Based solely on the first votes, 299 members are elected in single-member constituencies by first-past-the-post voting. The second votes are used to produce a proportional number of seats for parties, first in the states, and then in the Bundestag. Seats are allocated using the Sainte-Laguë method. If a party wins fewer constituency seats in a state than its second votes would entitle it to, it receives additional seats from the relevant state list. Parties can file lists in every single state under certain conditions – for example, a fixed number of supporting signatures. Parties can receive second votes only in those states in which they have filed a state list.[19]

If a party, by winning single-member constituencies in one state, receives more seats than it would be entitled to according to its second vote share in that state (so-called overhang seats), the other parties receive compensation seats. Owing to this provision, the Bundestag usually has more than 598 members. The 19th and current Bundestag, for example, has 709 seats: 598 regular seats and 111 overhang and compensation seats. Overhang seats are calculated at the state level, so many more seats are added to balance this out among the different states, adding more seats than would be needed to compensate for overhang at the national level in order to avoid negative vote weight.[19]

In order to qualify for seats based on the party-list vote share, a party must either win three single-member constituencies or exceed a threshold of 5% of the second votes nationwide. If a party only wins one or two single-member constituencies and fails to get at least 5% of the second votes, it keeps the single-member seat(s), but other parties that accomplish at least one of the two threshold conditions receive compensation seats.[19] In the most recent example of this, during the 2002 election, the PDS won only 4.0% of the second votes nationwide, but won two constituencies in the state of Berlin.[20] The same applies if an independent candidate wins a single-member constituency,[19] which has not happened since the 1949 West German federal election.[20]

If a voter cast a first vote for a successful independent candidate or a successful candidate whose party failed to qualify for proportional representation, his or her second vote does not count toward proportional representation. However, it does count toward whether the elected party exceeds the 5% threshold.[19]

Parties representing recognized national minorities (currently Danes, Frisians, Sorbs, and Romani people) are exempt from the 5% threshold, but normally only run in state elections.[19]


The Basic Law and the federal election code provide that federal elections must be held on a Sunday or on a national holiday no earlier than 46 and no later than 48 months after the first sitting of a Bundestag.[21] The 19th Bundestag held its first sitting on 24 October 2017.[22] Therefore, the next election will be held on one of the following possible dates:

  • 29 August 2021 (Sunday)
  • 5 September 2021 (Sunday)
  • 12 September 2021 (Sunday)
  • 19 September 2021 (Sunday)
  • 26 September 2021 (Sunday)
  • 3 October 2021 (Sunday and German Unity Day)
  • 10 October 2021 (Sunday)
  • 17 October 2021 (Sunday)
  • 24 October 2021 (Sunday)

The exact date will be determined by the President of Germany.[23]

Federal elections can be held earlier if the President of Germany dissolves the Bundestag. They may only do so under two possible scenarios described by the Basic Law.

  1. If the Bundestag fails to elect a Chancellor with an absolute majority of its members on the 15th day after the first ballot of a Chancellor's election, the President is free to either appoint the candidate who received a plurality of votes as Chancellor or dissolve the Bundestag (in accordance with Article 63, Section 4 of the Basic Law).
  2. If the Chancellor loses a confidence motion, they may ask the President to dissolve the Bundestag. The President is free to grant or to deny the Chancellor's request (in accordance with Article 68 of the Basic Law).

In both cases, federal elections would have to take place on a Sunday or national holiday no later than 60 days after the dissolution.[21][24]


The table below lists parties currently represented in the 19th Bundestag.

Name Ideology Leader(s) Parliamentary
2017 result Seats in 19th
Votes (%) Seats
CDU/CSU CDU Christian Democratic Union of Germany
Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands
Christian democracy Angela Merkel[lower-alpha 1] Volker Kauder 26.8%
200 / 709
200 / 709
CSU Christian Social Union in Bavaria
Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern
6.2%[lower-alpha 2]
46 / 709
46 / 709
SPD Social Democratic Party of Germany
Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands
Social democracy Andrea Nahles Andrea Nahles 20.5%
153 / 709
153 / 709
AfD Alternative for Germany
Alternative für Deutschland
National conservatism Jörg Meuthen
Alexander Gauland
Alexander Gauland
Alice Weidel
94 / 709
92 / 709
FDP Free Democratic Party
Freie Demokratische Partei
Classical liberalism Christian Lindner Christian Lindner 10.7%
80 / 709
80 / 709
Linke The Left
Die Linke
Democratic socialism Katja Kipping
Bernd Riexinger
Sahra Wagenknecht
Dietmar Bartsch
69 / 709
69 / 709
Grüne Alliance 90/The Greens
Bündnis 90/Die Grünen
Green politics Annalena Baerbock
Robert Habeck
Katrin Göring-Eckardt
Anton Hofreiter[lower-alpha 3]
67 / 709
67 / 709
Frauke Petry, Mario Mieruch
0 / 709
2 / 709

Opinion polls


  1. As current Chancellor and chair of the CDU; Horst Seehofer is the current chair of the CSU.
  2. CSU received 38.8% in Bavaria. It only fields candidates in Bavaria, where the CDU does not field candidates.
  3. Göring-Eckardt and Hofreiter are acting whips.[25]


  1. "Die SPD geht in die Opposition – Schulz bleibt Parteichef". Die Zeit. 24 September 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  2. "Kommt jetzt Jamaika?". Die Zeit. 24 September 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  3. "Sondierungsgespräche beginnen kommende Woche". Zeit Online. Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Agence France-Presse. 9 October 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  4. "Endspurt mit strittigen Themen". tagesschau. 15 November 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  5. "FDP bricht Jamaika-Sondierungen ab". tagesschau. 20 November 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  6. "Steinmeier fordert Gesprächsbereitschaft". tagesschau. 20 November 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  7. "Steinmeiers Mission Impossible". tagesschau. 21 November 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  8. "Bundespräsident lädt Chefs von Union und SPD ein". Spiegel Online. 24 November 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  9. "Sondierungen ab Januar". tagesschau. 15 December 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  10. "Sondierungen sollen nur sechs Tage dauern". Spiegel Online. Deutsche Presse-Agentur. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  11. "Parteichefs erzielen Durchbruch bei Sondierungen". Zeit Online. Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Agence France-Presse, Reuters. 12 January 2018. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  12. Markus C. Schulte (19 January 2018). "Wie die SPD-Landesverbände zur großen Koalition stehen". Süddeutsche Zeitung. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  13. "Abstimmung muss ausgezählt werden". Zeit Online. Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Agence France-Presse, Reuters. 21 January 2018. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  14. "Der Koalitionsvertrag steht". tagesschau. 7 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  15. "Union und SPD einigen sich auf Koalitionsvertrag". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 7 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  16. "SPD-Mitgliederentscheid vom 20. Februar bis 2. März". Zeit Online. Deutsche Presse-Agentur. 7 February 2018. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  17. "SPD-Mitglieder stimmen für große Koalition". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 4 March 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  18. "Angela Merkel zum vierten Mal zur Kanzlerin gewählt". RP Online. Deutsche Presse-Agentur. 14 March 2018. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  19. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Martin Fehndrich; Wilko Zicht; Matthias Cantow (22 September 2017). "Wahlsystem der Bundestagswahl". Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  20. 1 2 "Ergebnisse früherer Bundestagswahlen" (PDF). Der Bundeswahlleiter. 18 August 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  21. 1 2 "Wahl zum 19. Deutschen Bundestag am 24. September 2017". Der Bundeswahlleiter. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  22. "Neu gewählter Bundestag tritt am 24. Oktober erstmals zusammen". Deutscher Bundestag. 5 October 2017. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  23. "Nach der Bundestagswahl". Der Bundeswahlleiter. 25 September 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  24. Martin Fehndrich (26 February 2017). "Bundeskanzlerwahl". Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  25. "Geschäftsführender Vorstand". Bundestagsfraktion Bündnis 90/Die Grünen. 10 October 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
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