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  • Germany's voting system is complicated.

  • So complicated that some Germans

  • don't even understand it.

  • But its advocates argue that complexity

  • actually makes Germany's elections

  • some of the fairest in the world.

  • Like the U.S. government,

  • the German federal government

  • is made up of three main parts:

  • the judiciary, the executive branch

  • and the legislative branch.

  • The legislative branch includes

  • two chambers of parliament:

  • the Bundesrat and the Bundestag.

  • But Germans only vote directly

  • for members of the Bundestag in federal elections.

  • So that's what we'll focus on today.

  • The Bundestag is the legislative branch

  • of the German government,

  • based here in Berlin.

  • Think of it like the U.S. House of Representatives

  • or the U.K. House of Commons.

  • Every four years Germans vote to elect members

  • of the Bundestag in parliamentary elections.

  • There's a base number of 598 seats

  • up for election in the Bundestag.

  • Here's where it gets confusing.

  • Germans are asked to cast

  • not one, but two votes.

  • On the left side of the ballot,

  • Germans choose a member of parliament

  • from their own constituency.

  • Think of this like Americans voting

  • for a congressperson in their district.

  • There are 299 districts in Germany,

  • so directly-elected representatives make up

  • about half of the Bundestag.

  • So if I'm a voter here in Cologne

  • and I've got my ballot

  • I get one vote for one candidate,

  • here in my district.

  • The second vote, on the right side of the ballot,

  • is for a political party.

  • This vote determines how the remaining

  • 299 seats will be divided up

  • among Germany's various political parties.

  • So back in Cologne I also get a second vote.

  • This one goes towards one of

  • Germany's political parties,

  • like the Social Democratic Party

  • or the Christian Democratic Union.

  • Political parties in Germany's 16 states

  • put together lists of candidates.

  • The results from the second vote

  • determine how many of these candidates

  • will get off the list and

  • get a seat in parliament.

  • A party has to receive at least 5%

  • of the second votes in a state

  • to qualify for a seat.

  • Cologne is in Germany's most populous state,

  • called North Rhine-Westphalia.

  • About 18 million Germans live here.

  • Because of that they get to fill

  • the largest share of seats

  • remaining in the Bundestag.

  • Are you with me?

  • Because here's where it gets

  • even more complicated.

  • The number of seats in the Bundestag

  • often actually exceeds 598.

  • Sometimes Germans split their ballots,

  • meaning they vote for a candidate

  • from one party in their first vote

  • and for a different political party

  • in their second vote.

  • This 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.

  • To make up for this

  • Germans created something called

  • overhang" and "balance seats.”

  • Basically these are extra seats

  • in the Bundestag to make sure

  • every candidate who was directly elected

  • gets a seat, while at the same time

  • making sure political parties are

  • still proportionally represented,

  • based on the number of votes they got.

  • So right after the 2013 elections

  • there were actually 631 seats in the Bundestag,

  • including 33 overhang and balance seats.

  • One of the first tasks of

  • the newly-elected Bundestag

  • is to vote for the most

  • powerful person in Germany,

  • the federal chancellor.

  • But that's easier said than done.

  • To form a government,

  • the chancellor needs to receive

  • an absolute majority in parliament.

  • That means getting more than half the votes

  • of the members of the Bundestag.

  • But Germany has a bunch of political parties

  • so receiving more than half the seats

  • in parliament is uncommon.

  • That's where a coalition comes in,

  • where the biggest party teams up

  • with other smaller political parties

  • to get the votes they need.

  • So after the 2013 elections,

  • the CDU, Angela Merkel's party,

  • and the CSU, formed a coalition government

  • with the Social Democrats.

  • Once a coalition is formed

  • members of parliament vote

  • to elect the chancellor.

  • It's the chancellor who chooses

  • members of his or her cabinet,

  • which includes federal ministers similar

  • to secretaries in the U.S. presidential cabinet.

  • Chancellors serve four-year terms

  • and don't have term limits.

  • Helmut Kohl is the longest-serving chancellor to-date.

  • He was in office for 16 years.

  • Okay, I know that was a lot,

  • so why even bother with all of this complexity?

  • To understand why, well, we have to

  • look to the history books.

  • Many Germans saw the failure of

  • the Weimar Republic as

  • the failure of the country's

  • fragmented parliamentary system.

  • After World War II,

  • the Federal Republic of Germany

  • transferred power from the president

  • toward the Bundestag

  • and encouraged political majorities

  • to pass legislation.

  • Today the role of the German president

  • is mostly ceremonial.

  • And it's harder for extremist parties

  • to get in power with that 5% vote threshold.

  • The German election structure has resulted

  • in a stable government for more than 60 years.

  • But stable definitely doesn't mean simple.

  • Hey guys, it's Elizabeth, thanks for watching.

  • You can check out more of our videos over here,

  • including one about how Europe is

  • responding to President Trump.

  • We're also taking your ideas for future CNBC Explains,

  • so leave your suggestions in the comments section.

  • And while you're at it, subscribe to our channel.

  • Auf wiedersehen.

Germany's voting system is complicated.

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ドイツの選挙はどうなっているのか?| CNBCが解説 (How do German elections work? | CNBC Explains)

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    robert に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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