At stake in this election:
- 598 seats in the Federal Diet (Bundestag)
Description of government structure:
- Chief of State: Federal President Joachim GAUCK *
- Head of Government: Chancellor Angela MERKEL **
- Assembly: Germany has a bicameral Parliament (Parlament) consisting of the Federal Council (Bundesrat) with 69 seats and the Federal Diet (Bundestag) with 622 seats.
* The Federal President is elected by a Federal Convention to serve a 5-year term. The Federal Convention includes all members of the Federal Assembly and an equal number of delegates elected by the state parliaments. A candidate must secure a majority of votes in the Federal Convention to be elected. If this does not happen in two rounds of voting, a third round is held where only a plurality is needed to win.
** The Chancellor must win an absolute majority of votes in the Federal Assembly.
Description of electoral system:
- The Federal President is elected by indirect vote to serve a 5-year term.
- Chancellor is elected by parliament to serve a 4-year term.
- In the Federal Council (Bundesrat) 69 members are filled by regional legislatures*. In the Federal Diet (Bundestag), 299 members are elected by plurality vote in single-member constituencies to serve 4-year terms and 299 members are allocated by popular vote through a mixed-member proportional system to serve 4-year terms.**
* There are 16 multi-member districts (magnitude ranging from 3 to 6), each of which corresponds to one of the 16 Lander (states). Each state elects a regional assembly, which elects a regional government, a delegation of which represents the Land in the Federal Council.
** Each voter has two votes. In each single-member district, the first vote counts toward the election of a plurality winner. Each Land also represents a multi-member district. The second vote determines outcomes in the MMDs. Within each Land, a party is entitled to a share of seats proportional to its share of second votes. Seats at the MMD/compensatory level are allocated to parties from closed lists to make each party's overall seat share (compensatory seats + SMD seats) is proportional to its Land-wide vote share. To qualify for compensatory seats, a party must win either 5 percent of second votes nation-wide or at least 3 SMD seats. Because it is possible for a party to win more SMD seats than its share of second votes otherwise would allow ("overhang mandates"), the size of the compensatory tier can change, and with it the size of the Bundestag. There are currently 24 members in the overhang mandates.
Main parties in the electoral race:
- Alliance: Christian Democratic Union of Germany / Christian Social Union of Bavaria / Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands / Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern (CDU/CSU)*
Leader: Angela MERKEL and Horst SEEHOFER
Seats won in last Federal Diet election: 239
- Party: Social Democratic Party of Germany / Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD)
Leader: Peer STEINBRÜCK
Seats won in last Federal Diet election: 146
- Party: Free Democratic Party / Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP)
Leader: Rainer BRÜDERLE
Seats won in last Federal Diet election: 93
- Party: The Left / Die Linke
Leader: Katja KIPPING and Bernd RIEXINGER
Seats won in last Federal Diet election: 76
- Party: Alliance '90/The Greens / Bündnis 90/Die Grünen
Leader: Katrin GÖRING and Jürgen TRITTEN
Seats won in last Federal Diet election: 68
- Party: Pirate Party / Piratenpartei
Leader: Bernd SCHLÖMER
Seats won in last Federal Diet election: 0
- Party: Alternative for Germany / Alternative für Deutschland (AfD)
Leader: Bernd LUCKE
Seats won in last Federal Diet election: N/A
* The CDU and CSU, also known as the Union parties, are Germany's two main conservative parties. The CSU only contests elections in Bavaria, whereas the CDU contests elections in all other German states.
Population and number of registered voters:
- Population: 81,147,265 (July 2013 est.)
- Registered Voters: 62,168,489 (September 2009 )