First, Split Your Vote

Then overhang it on a balance seat. That’s how Germans vote, folks. And they smirk at our electoral college? Of course we do, too when we lose. But still. No wonder they can’t vote Merkel out of office. Es ist einfach kompliziert. It’s simply complicated.

Voting

How are seats calculated in the Bundestag?

The system starts to get complicated when Germans split their votes, meaning they vote for a candidate from one party in the first vote and for a different political party in their second vote. That can throw off the balance of seats in parliament so that one party is more strongly represented than they should be based on the results of the proportionate second votes.

So Germans created “overhang” and “balance seats.” Those are extra seats in the Bundestag that ensure every candidate who was directly elected gets a seat while political parties are still proportionally represented based on the number of votes they received. A German state’s population is taken into consideration when votes are converted into seats.

After Germany’s 2013 parliamentary elections, there were 631 seats in the Bundestag, including 33 overhang and balance seats.

 

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