Presidential, Chancellor, and Parliamentary Elections in Germany: who and whom elects, when and how to elect
On this page you will find extensive information about the political elections in the country; the data regarding the country's electoral system is presented in pictorial diagrams and in tables: general information about the elections, terms and dates of elections, the procedure for the election of the Federal President and the Chancellor, as well as the deputies or members of the Bundestag or the country's Parliament; you will also learn when Germany will hold the next elections.
§ The election system in Germany: who and whom elects in the country
The political system of Germany consists of two levels: federal (state) and regional (the one of a federated state or a land); at each of these levels there are their own authorities, so, the elections are held accordingly.
Germany is a democratic country, so its citizens elect deputies or members of the Federal and state (regional) Parliaments. Deputies, as representatives of the people, exercise legislative power on their behalf, as well as elect individuals to the executive and judicial authorities of the country.
The figure below demonstrates the election scheme in Germany: who elects whom.
Explanation of the political elections scheme in Germany:
- 1. The German citizens elect deputies to the Bundestag or the Parliament; usually deputies are members of some political parties.
- 2. Residents of the German federated states elect deputies to the Landtags or the federated states parliaments. The deputies elect the head of the federated state government.
- 3. The members of the Bundestag and the Landtags or the federated states parliaments form the Federal Assembly to elect the President of the country.
- 4. The Federal Assembly elects the President of Germany.
- 5. The Bundestag elects the Federal Chancellor of Germany. The Chancellor nominates the Ministers who make up their government.
- 6. The Landtag elects the Head of the federated state government. The Head of the federated state government nominates the ministers who make up the federated state government.
- 7. The elected members of the Governments of each federated state constitute the Bundesrat or the Federal Council - representation of the federated states at the federal level of government. The members of the Bundesrat elect the President of the Bundesrat.
- 8. The Bundestag deputies and members of the Bundesrat elect judges of the Federal Сonstitutional Сourt.
§ Results of recent elections in Germany
Table 2 below shows the results of the most recent elections in Germany: the election of the President, Chancellor, and members of the Parliament.
Table 2. Results of the most recent elections in Germany
|Who was elected||Election date||Winner||Particulars|
|Bundestag members||26.09.2021||Parties: SPD, CDU/CSU, Alliance 90/The Greens, FDP, AfD, the Left-Wing Party||For details see Political parties in the German Bundestag|
|President of Germany||12.02.2017||Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD)||931 votes out of 1239 / 75.1%|
|Chancellor of Germany||14.03.2018||Angela Merkel (CDU)||364 votes out of 692 / 52.6%|
For details about when the next elections will take place in Germany, as well as about the periods for which people are elected to a particular position in Germany see below on the page.
§ Election of the Federal President of Germany: procedure, terms, dates
The election of the President of Germany is handled by the Federal Assembly, whose members are elected every 5 years this is the only task of this political body. The Federal Assembly by 50% consists of all the Bundestag members representing the people of the country, while the other 50% falls on the representatives from all the federated states nominated by the federated states parliaments. The representatives nominated by the federated states parliaments are politicians of the federated states or people of name, for example, famous athletes, musicians, etc.
One and the same person can be the President of Germany for no more than 10 years, i.e. serve 2 presidential terms of 5 years.
The Presidential Elections are held in the Bundestag building. All members of the Federal Assembly receive ballots, which they fill out in the polling booth and put them in the ballot box. The politician who receives more than 50% of the vote is elected President. If no candidate has received the required number of votes, the election is repeated again under the same conditions. If in the second ballot no one has scored the required number of votes, the election is held for the third time; at that, the person with the greatest number of votes (not necessarily exceeding 50%) becomes the President of Germany.
For example: in 2017, Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) was elected President of Germany; he was elected by an overwhelming 931 number of votes during the first ballot.
§ Election of the Federal Chancellor of Germany: procedure, terms, dates
The Federal Chancellor of Germany is the head of the country's Government, who determines the focal points of the country's policy, and is elected for a 4-year term. The Bundestag members, being representatives of the people, elect the Federal Chancellor. First, the President of Germany nominates a candidate for election as the Chancellor to be considered by the Bundestag members; as a rule, such a nominee belongs to the political party with the most votes in the Parliamentary Elections. If, according to the results of voting, the candidate for the Chancellor gains more than 50% of the vote, s/he shall be considered the elected Chancellor of the country. However, should the said nominee fail to gain the required number of votes, the elections shall be held for the second time (the second ballot); in this round the Bundestag members may propose other candidates for the post of the Chancellor. If during the second ballot none of the candidates scores the required number of votes, the third ballot is held. In the third voting round, the candidate with the greatest number of votes among all the candidates (not necessarily exceeding 50%) shall be considered elected.
After the election of the Federal Chancellor, one of the two scenarios is possible: (1) if the candidate has been elected by more than 50% of the Bundestag members, the President shall appoint the Chancellor; (2) if the candidate was elected by a majority vote in the 3rd voting round and did not get more than 50% of the vote, the President decides whether to appoint the Chancellor or dissolve the Bundestag and hold new elections of the Bundestag members.
The Federal Chancellor is elected for a term of 4 years, the beginning of their governance shall be the date of their appointment by the President, and the term in office shall be over after the next election of the Bundestag members. The Bundestag members, however, may pass a no-confidence motion against the German Chancellor and elect another Chancellor.
§ Parliamentary elections in Germany: procedure, terms, dates
The Bundestag is the name of the Federal Parliament of Germany; the Parliament consists of deputies or members elected by the people. Deputies to the Bundestag are elected every 4 years by the people by secret, direct vote in electoral constituencies. According to the German Constitution, "Members of the German Bundestag shall be elected in general, direct, free, equal and secret elections". (Article 38).
Voting at the parliamentary elections, the elector puts two marks or casts two votes: on the ballot: the first vote (in German: Stimme) is given in favour of the politician, whom s/he elects as a deputy from their electoral constituency, and the second vote goes in favour of one of the political parties. Thus, 50% of the deputies get to the Bundestag on the basis of the first vote, and 50% - by the federated states party lists on the basis of the second vote.
Political parties have to overcome the 5% election threshold to get to the Bundestag, i.e. they have to receive at least 5% of all second votes in the course of election. The list of the German political parties (in German and English) that have participated in the Bundestag elections. To find out which parties are represented in the German Parliament and by how many members, go to the dedicated page of our website.
The citizens of the country have the right to vote in the parliamentary elections upon reaching the age of 18.
Any German citizen who meets the following criteria can become a Bundestag member:
- German citizenship,
- Age of 18 years old or more,
- Elected by the people through voting during the elections for the Bundestag.
§ Terms and dates of elections in Germany
The table below features the dates for the election of the President, Chancellor, Members of the Parliament, Judges of the Constitutional Court, as well as of the federated states authorities in Germany.
Table 1. Terms and dates of elections in Germany
|Who is elected||How often they are elected||Who elects||Next election|
|Parliamentary elections||4 years||Citizens of Germany||2025|
|Federal President||5 years||Federal Assembly||2022|
|Federal Chancellor||4 years||The Bundestag members||2021|
|Federated states parliaments||4-5 years*||Citizens of Germany||varying|
|Heads of the federated states governments||4-5 years*||Members of the federated state parliament||varying|
|Bundesrat||-||Representatives of the federated states governments||-|
|President of the Bundesrat||annually||The Bundesrat members||-|
|Judges of the Federal Constitutional Court||12 years||The Bundestag and the Bundesrat||-|
* - The election terms and dates depend on the legislation of the federated states.
§ When will the next elections take place in Germany?
Brief information about when the next elections in Germany will be held can be found in Table 1 above on the page.
When will the next parliamentary elections in Germany take place?
The exact date of the next parliamentary elections is set by the President of the country, this day should be a day-off or a holiday and fall on the period of August-October 2025.
When will the next Chancellor elections in Germany take place?
Unless the Bundestag members pass a no-confidence motion against the German Chancellor and elect another one at an early election, the next scheduled elections of the Federal Chancellor of Germany will be held at a meeting of the Bundestag after the next parliamentary elections; so the next elections of the Federal Chancellor will be held in 2021.
When will the next presidential elections in Germany take place?
The current President of the country was elected on March 19, 2017; the elected term of the President in Germany is 5 years; it will be over on March 18, 2022. Thus, unless an early re-election is required, the next presidential elections will be held in March 2022.