On September 26, Germany voted in a national election. The election takes place every four years, and this year is an especially unique election year. Angela Merkel has been Bundeskanzlerin (chancellor) since 2005 but is not among the candidates this year.
I am currently living in the downtown area of Freiburg, which is a center of travel, politics, and community. A few street train lines run throughout the city, and at every stop there are numerous election posters.
The German Political System:
Here’s a quick rundown of how the German political system works: One side of the ballot is a vote for a specific candidate; the other side has a vote for a political party. Direct candidates who receive a majority of votes in their district get a seat in the Bundestag (Parliament). The party vote determines the other half of the seats in the Bundestag. The percent of votes corresponds to the percent of seats each party receives.
Some nuances exist though, such as when the percent of votes in the party vote does not match the percent of that party’s direct candidates. In this case, seats will be added or taken away from parties until it is proportioned correctly. The Bundeskanzler is not directly chosen, but rather decided once the new Bundestag meet and the political parties form coalitions for a majority. For more details, this article from Deutsche Welle contains more information about the German political system: https://www.dw.com/en/german-election-process/a-37805756.
Most Popular German Political Parties:
Die Linke (the left): far left party, focusing on strong market regulation and rent caps
Die Grünen (the green): a left party focused on the environment
SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany): left-middle party, usually popular among the working class and trade unions
CDU/CSU (Christian Democratic Union): middle-right party (which Angela Merkel was from), a balance of conservative values with new ideas
FDP (Free Democratic Party): middle-right party, focusing on civil rights and individual freedom
AfD (Alternative for Germany): a extreme right wing party, focusing on anti-immigration
More info on German political parties: https://www.dw.com/en/cdu-csu-spd-afd-fdp-left-greens/a-38085900
SPD received 25.7% of the vote – 206 seats
CDU/CSU received 24.1% of the vote – 196 seats
Die Grünen received 14.8% of the vote – 118 seats
FDP received 11.5% of the vote – 92 seats
AfD received 10.3% of the vote – 83 seats
Die Linke received 4.9% of the vote – 39 seats
The political parties will now discuss to form coalitions, so one group of parties has the majority in the Bundestag. The majority coalition will then select the Bundeskanzler (chancellor). This process could take months, and in the meantime, the current government will stay in place.