The Bundestag plays the central role in the legislation of the Federation (for example Article 77 I GG), furthermore it controls the government (for example quotation right, Article 43 I GG).
In addition it participates in the election of other constitutional organs (for example Article 94 I S 2 GG), controls through the budgetary law a considerable part of the finances of the Federation and participates in matters concerning the European Union according to Article 23 GG.
Elections to the Bundestag
Right to vote (Article 38 II GG)
Article 38 II
Any person who has attained the age of eighteen shall be entitled to vote; any person who has attained the age of majority may be elected.
The right to vote of Article 38 II GG contains the active and the passive right to vote:
|Active right to vote||=||Ability to elect
|passive right to vote||=||Ability to be elected|
Election principles (Article 38 I GG)
Article 38 I
Members of the German Bundestag shall be elected in general, direct, free, equal, and secret elections. They shall be representatives of the whole people, not bound by orders or instructions, and responsible only to their conscience.
The Basic Law rules that the election to the Bundestag must meet the following five principles:
|generally||=||All citizens vote (with exceptions, which result from material reasons: for example age, incapacitated).|
|freely||=||Forbade of any pressure from private and public side in the direction of a certain casting of votes (therefore it for example prohibition of election propaganda directly in the voting area).|
|secretly||=||The individual vote may not have to be assigned to the individual voter.|
|equally||=||Each voter has same number of votes and each vote has the same value (prohibition of class right to vote, different vote values according to tax revenues or property etc.).|
|directly||=||Directly, without inserting of electors.|
If these principles, which result from the principle of democracy, are hurt, then the election is invalid, except the election result can not have been falsified by the injury.
The election to the Bundestag (personalized election on the basis of proportional representation)
The exact election procedure is not regulated in the Basic Law, but in the federal electoral law.
The election of the Bundestag is a combined election system between majority election and elections on the basis of proportional representation. The emphasis is thereby on the elections on the basis of proportional representation.
Each voter has two votes. With the first vote he elects a candidate of his constituency (majority election), with the second vote he elects the national list of a party.
For the majority election (first vote) the area of the Federal Republic is divided into constituencies with more or less the same number of voters. The number of constituencies (299) corresponds to the half of the legal number of seats (598 seats) in the Bundestag. Elected is that candidate who gets the most votes in the constituency .
At the elections on the basis of proportional representation (second vote) all candidates of a party are on the national lists in a firm order, specified by the parties and not changeable by the voters. The higher the list place of a candidate the more probably he is successful.
The allocation of seats
The allocation of seats to the parties
In principle each party gets as much percent of the seats as much percent of the votes. A party which gets 30.5 % of the votes gets 30.5 % of the seats. Because there are not 0.5 seats the number of the votes had to be converted in the number of seats in a special procedure.
Since the election in 2009 the Sainte-Laguë/Schepers method is used. Before the Hare-Niemeyer-Procedure was used.
In the Sainte-Laguë/Schepers method first a divisor is calculated through dividing the whole number of secondary votes by the whole number of seats.
After that the number of secondary votes of each party is divided by the divisor.
The results are rounded, if they are bigger than 0.5 up, if they are smaller than 0.5 down. If the result exactly contains 0.5 it is rounded up or down in a way that complies the whole number of seats. If there are more valid possibilities lots are drawn.
The rounded results are the number of seats of the parties.
If the number of seats of all parties together is higher than the whole of the seats the divisor must be changed until the calculated number of seates matches the whole number of seats.
During the allocation of seats only those parties are considered, which reached at least 5 percent of all valid secondary votes or however at least 3 direct mandates or represent a national minority ("5 percent - hurdle").
After that one determines, how the total number of the seats per party distribute on the individual national lists in the relationship of the number of the secondary votes reached in each Land.
The occupation of seats with persons
Since it is clear now how many seats the parties get in each Land, the seats will be occupied in a fist step with the winners of the constituencies.
Then in a second step remaining seats are assigned to the elected persons of the respective national list (in the numbered ascending order).
Whenever a party on Land level achieved more direct mandates, than seats through secondary votes, those extra direct mandates remain to the party.
Accordingly the number of delegates increases for the duration of the legislative period of the elected Bundestag by the number of overhang mandates (total number = legal number  + overhang mandates).
Legislative Period (Article 39 I GG)
The legislative period is the period, for which the Bundestag is elected. It lasts 4 years.
Right position of the delegates (Article 38 I S 2, 46, 47, 48 GG)
The delegates are representatives of the whole people, they are not bound at orders or instructions and only responsible to their conscience (Article 38 I S 2 GG) (independent or free mandate).
A free mandate is extracted from each access. A delegate cannot be forced and/or recalled therefore to a resignation of his mandate. Also he cannot be forced to a certain behavior (whip). A voluntary determination to a certain however behaviour is allowed (party discipline).
Individual rights of the delegates
Talking and voting liberty for official acts of the delegates in the Bundestag, in committee or parliamentary group meetings. That means the delegate may be pulled at no time (Also if he is no longer delegate) for his talking and voting behavior in the Bundestag or the committees for responsibility. Exception: slanderous offenses, Article 46 I GG.
Protection against prosecution (Not irregularities and disciplin proceedings) during the mandate, prosecution only with permission of the Bundestag, Article 46 II GG) exception: When surprising in the act and/or in the course of the following day.
(1) At no time may a Member be subjected to court proceedings or disciplinary action or otherwise called to account outside the Bundestag for a vote cast or for any speech or debate in the Bundestag or in any of its committees. This provision shall not apply to defamatory insults.
(2) A Member may not be called to account or arrested for a punishable offense without permission of the Bundestag, unless he is apprehended while committing the offense or in the course of the following day.
(3) The permission of the Bundestag shall also be required for any other restriction of a Members freedom of the person or for the initiation of proceedings against a Member under Article 18.
(4) Any criminal proceedings or any proceedings under Article 18 against a Member and any detention or other restriction of the freedom of his person shall be suspended at the demand of the Bundestag.
- Requirement on vacation for the preparation to the election
- Notice/dismissal because of assumption of the delegate office is inadmissible
- Requirement on appropriate remuneration (parliamentary allowance)
- Right of free use of all national transport systems
- Right to refuse to give evidence