Statutory Language

Germany's Mixed Member System

Germany's Mixed Member System combines U.S.-style single seat "winner take all" districts with a proportional representation list vote. Overall, the allocation of seats in the legislatures are proportional to the popular vote, but half the seats come from single-seat districts and the other half are filled from party lists based on the popular vote.

The following is language from the Federal Electoral Law of Germany, enacted on May 7, 1956 and subsequently amended.

The members of the Bundestag are representatives of the German people elected in general, direct, free, equal and secret elections.

The 496 members are returned to Parliament by a dual procedure with one half of them (248) being directly elected in the constituencies and the other half indirectly by a proportional method via the state lists (i.e. lists of candidates put forward by the political parties in each Land or state).

Each voter has two votes, the first for one of the candidates in his constituency, the second for one of the state lists. Each constituency elects one deputy on a straight or relative majority. The second votes cast for the state lists are counted and the seats distributed among the parties in proportion to the number of votes given for their list in accordance with the Niemeyer method of calculation. the number of constituency seats obtained by the parties is then deducted from the number of list seats established by the Niemeyer method and the remainder given to the candidates in the order in which they appear on the respective lists. Candidates returned to Parliament on a constituency vote are no longer considered as list candidates. A party may find itself with what are known as "overhang" seats if it has obtained more seats in the constituencies of a particular state on the basis of first votes than it is entitled to according to the result of the calculation based on the second votes in that state.

When the state list seats are distributed only those parties that have polled at least five percent of the total number of second votes cast, or have won a seat in three constituencies, are taken into consideration. Several difference state lists of on one party can be linked together to count as one list for distribution purposes.