At stake in this election:
- The office of President of Germany
Description of government structure:
- Chief of State: President Horst KOEHLER
- 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 598 seats.
Description of electoral system:
- The President is elected by indirect vote to serve a 5-year term. *
- The Chancellor is elected by parliament to serve a 4-year term.**
- In the Federal Council (Bundesrat) 69 members are ex officio 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.**
* The 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.
* There are 16 multi-member districts (magnitude ranging from 3 to 6), each of which corresponds to one of the 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) 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.
Main Candidates in the Presidential race:
- Joachim GAUCK*
- Christian Wilhelm Walter WULFF**
Party: Christian Democratic Union / Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands
* GAUCK is non-partison, however, he has been nominated by the Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens.
** WULFF has been nominated by the ruling coalition of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU), and Free Democratic Party (FDP)
Population and number of registered voters:
- Population: 82,329,758 (July 2009 est.)
- Registered Voters: N/A ( 2010 )