MPs are the people’s representatives in parliament. With your election, you will be given the task of participating in legislation. 299 MPs move into the Bundestag as winners of the direct mandate (see direct mandate) in their constituency, the remaining MPs via state lists of the parties (see parties). All MPs have the same rights and duties and equivalent votes. According to Article 38 of the Basic Law, every member of the German Bundestag is a representative of the entire people. He is not bound by instructions from the voters or his party, but only committed to his conscience. (see free mandate)

Number of MPs

According to the law, the Bundestag consists of 598 members. However, this number can increase as a result of overhang mandates (see overhang mandate) and the compensation mandates introduced before the 2013 Bundestag election (see compensation mandate). Because of these regulations, 631 members of parliament moved into parliament after the federal election. It is expected that the 2017 election result will also lead to significantly more than 598 members of the new Bundestag.

Absolute majority

An absolute majority is achieved in votes if at least half of all members of the Bundestag plus one other member of parliament support a project. The calculation is based on the statutory number of MPs (see number of MPs) and not the number of MPs present. Only once did a parliamentary election give a parliamentary group an absolute majority, namely the CDU / CSU in 1957. In order to achieve an absolute majority in parliament and thus a stable government majority, parties usually form coalitions (cf. coalition). The absolute majority in the Bundestag is often called a chancellor majority because it is necessary for the election of the Federal Chancellor, among other things.

Right to vote

Active suffrage means the right to cast one’s vote in an election. This applies to all Germans who are at least 18 years old on election day and have lived in Germany for at least three months. Only in a few cases can courts withdraw German citizens from voting for a maximum of five years in connection with convictions for criminal offenses such as treason or the bribery of members of parliament.

Compensation mandate

Compensation mandates are intended to compensate for the distortion in the will of the electorate that arises in the case of overhang mandates (see overhang mandate). Since the 2013 election, compensation mandates have also been provided for in the electoral law for the Bundestag. The parliament is enlarged to such an extent that the actual distribution of seats (including the overhang seats) reflects as closely as possible the majority ratios resulting from the parties’ share of second votes. If overhang mandates arise, the disadvantaged parties receive compensation mandates for this purpose. As a result, the number of members of the Bundestag (see number of members) can increase significantly more than before the introduction of the equalization mandate.

Germans abroad

German citizens who live abroad and do not have a place of residence in Germany are also called Germans abroad. In many cases you can take part in the federal election. The law states two possible requirements for this: Either the person must have lived in Germany for at least three consecutive months within the past 25 years. Or the potential voters must be personally familiar with the political situation and be affected by it – for example as employees of German embassies or Goethe Institutes. Those who meet the requirements must also apply for entry in the electoral roll in order to be able to cast their vote.


Only German citizens who are at least 18 years old are entitled to vote in the Bundestag election. Citizens of other nationalities are not allowed to cast their votes – this applies regardless of which country they come from and how long they have been living in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Counting procedure

See allocation of seats and the Sainte-Laguë / Schepers procedure

Das Erste reports on this topic in special broadcasts on Monday, August 21, 2017 at 11:00 p.m., Monday, August 28, 2017 at 8:15 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., Sunday, September 3, 2017 at 8:15 p.m., Monday , September 4, 2017 at 8:15 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., Monday, September 11, 2017 at 8:15 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 10:45 p.m., Monday, September 18, 2017 at 8:15 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. and Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 10:00 p.m..