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Legislature of Germany; parliament

Top 10 Bundestag related articles

German Federal Diet

Deutscher Bundestag
19th Bundestag
Preceded byReichstag (Nazi Germany) 1933–1945
Volkskammer (East Germany) 1949–1990
Wolfgang Schäuble, CDU
since 24 October 2017
Hans-Peter Friedrich, CSU
since 24 October 2017
Dagmar Ziegler, SPD
since 26 November 2020
Wolfgang Kubicki, FDP
since 24 October 2017
Petra Pau, The Left
since 7 April 2006
Claudia Roth, Alliance 90/The Greens
since 22 October 2013
Vacant[a], AfD
Political groups
Government (397)

Opposition (312)

Mixed-member proportional representation (MMP)
Last election
24 September 2017
Next election
26 September 2021
Meeting place
Mitte, Berlin, Germany
Rules of Procedure of the German Bundestag and Mediation Committee (English)

The Bundestag (German pronunciation: [ˈbʊndəstaːk], "Federal Diet") is the German federal parliament. It is the only body that is directly elected by the German people on the federal level. It can be compared to a lower house similar to the United States House of Representatives or the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. The Bundestag was established by Title III[b] of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (German: Grundgesetz) in 1949 as one of the legislative bodies of Germany and thus it is the historical successor to the earlier Reichstag.

The Members of the Bundestag are representatives of the German people as a whole and are not bound by any orders or instructions and are only held accountable by their electorate.[c] The minimum legal number of members of the Bundestag (German: Mitglieder des Bundestages) is 598;[d] however due to the system of overhang and equalisation seats the current 19th Bundestag has a total of 709 members, making it the largest Bundestag to date.

The Bundestag is elected every four years by German citizens[e] over the age of 18.[f] Elections use a mixed-member proportional representation system which combines first-past-the-post elected seats with a proportional party list. An early election is only possible in the cases outlined in Articles 63 and 68 of the Grundgesetz.

The Bundestag has several functions. Together with the Bundesrat, the Bundestag makes up the legislative branch of the Federal Government. The individual states (Bundesländer) of Germany participate through the Bundesrat in legislative process similar to an upper house in a bicameral parliament, however the Grundgesetz[3] considers the Bundestag and Bundesrat to be separate from each other. The Bundestag and Bundesrat nevertheless work together in the lawmaking procedure on the federal level. The Bundestag also elects the Executive and is responsible for executive oversight. The Bundestag also sets the Federal Budget.

Since 1999, it has met in the Reichstag in Berlin.[4] The Bundestag also operates in multiple new government buildings in Berlin and has its own police force (Bundestagspolizei). The current President of the Bundestag since 2017 is Wolfgang Schäuble of the CDU. The 19th Bundestag has five Vice Presidents.

Bundestag Intro articles: 160


Bundestag translates as "Federal Diet", with "Bund" (cognate to English "bundle") in this context meaning federation or league, and "Tag" (day) came to mean "meeting in conference" — another example being Reichstag — because a council gathering would happen on a given day of the week, month, or year (similar to "diet", which is from Latin "dies", day).[5]

With the dissolution of the German Confederation in 1866 and the founding of the German Empire (Deutsches Reich) in 1871, the Reichstag was established as the German parliament in Berlin, which was the capital of the then Kingdom of Prussia (the largest and most influential state in both the Confederation and the empire). Two decades later, the current parliament building was erected. The Reichstag delegates were elected by direct and equal male suffrage (and not the three-class electoral system prevailing in Prussia until 1918). The Reichstag did not participate in the appointment of the Chancellor until the parliamentary reforms of October 1918. After the Revolution of November 1918 and the establishment of the Weimar Constitution, women were given the right to vote for (and serve in) the Reichstag, and the parliament could use the no-confidence vote to force the chancellor or any cabinet member to resign. In March 1933, one month after the Reichstag fire, the then President of the Weimar Republic, Paul von Hindenburg, a retired war hero, gave Adolf Hitler ultimate power through the Decree for the Protection of People and State and the Enabling Act of 1933, although Hitler remained at the post of Federal Government Chancellor (though he called himself the Führer). After this, the Reichstag met only rarely, usually at the Krolloper (Kroll Opera House) to unanimously rubber-stamp the decisions of the government. It last convened on 26 April 1942.

With the new Constitution of 1949, the Bundestag was established as the new West German parliament. Because West Berlin was not officially under the jurisdiction of the Constitution, a legacy of the Cold War, the Bundestag met in Bonn in several different buildings, including (provisionally) a former waterworks facility. In addition, owing to the city's legal status, citizens of West Berlin were unable to vote in elections to the Bundestag, and were instead represented by 22 non-voting delegates[6] chosen by the House of Representatives, the city's legislature.[7]

The Bundeshaus in Bonn is the former parliament building of Germany. The sessions of the German Bundestag were held there from 1949 until its move to Berlin in 1999. Today it houses the International Congress Centre Bundeshaus Bonn and in the northern areas the branch office of the Bundesrat ("Federal Council"), which represents the Länder – the federated states. The southern areas became part of German offices for the United Nations in 2008.

The former Reichstag building housed a history exhibition (Fragen an die deutsche Geschichte) and served occasionally as a conference center. The Reichstag building was also occasionally used as a venue for sittings of the Bundestag and its committees and the Bundesversammlung (Federal Assembly), the body which elects the German Federal President. However, the Soviets harshly protested against the use of the Reichstag building by institutions of the Federal Republic of Germany and tried to disturb the sittings by flying supersonic jets close to the building.

Since 19 April 1999, the German parliament has again assembled in Berlin in its original Reichstag building, which was built in 1888 based on the plans of German architect Paul Wallot and underwent a significant renovation under the lead of British architect Lord Norman Foster. Parliamentary committees and subcommittees, public hearings and parliamentary group meetings take place in three auxiliary buildings, which surround the Reichstag building: the Jakob-Kaiser-Haus, Paul-Löbe-Haus and Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus.

In 2005, a small aircraft crashed close to the German Parliament. It was then decided to ban private air traffic over Central Berlin.[8]

Bundestag History articles: 20


The German Unity Flag is a national memorial to German Reunification that was raised on 3 October 1990; it waves in front of the Reichstag building in Berlin, seat of the Bundestag

Together with the Bundesrat, the Bundestag is the legislative branch of the German political system.

Although most legislation is initiated by the executive branch, the Bundestag considers the legislative function its most important responsibility, concentrating much of its energy on assessing and amending the government's legislative program. The committees (see below) play a prominent role in this process. Plenary sessions provide a forum for members to engage in public debate on legislative issues before them, but they tend to be well attended only when significant legislation is being considered.

The Bundestag members are the only federal officials directly elected by the public; the Bundestag in turn elects the Chancellor and, in addition, exercises oversight of the executive branch on issues of both substantive policy and routine administration. This check on executive power can be employed through binding legislation, public debates on government policy, investigations, and direct questioning of the chancellor or cabinet officials. For example, the Bundestag can conduct a question hour (Fragestunde), in which a government representative responds to a written question previously submitted by a member. Members can ask related questions during the question hour. The questions can concern anything from a major policy issue to a specific constituent's problem. Use of the question hour has increased markedly over the past forty years, with more than 20,000 questions being posed during the 1987–90 term. Understandably, the opposition parties actively exercise their parliamentary right to scrutinize government actions.

Constituent services also take place via the Petition Committee. In 2004, the Petition Committee received over 18,000 complaints from citizens and was able to negotiate a mutually satisfactory solution to more than half of them. In 2005, as a pilot of the potential of internet petitions, a version of e-Petitioner was produced for the Bundestag. This was a collaborative project involving The Scottish Parliament, International Teledemocracy Centre and the Bundestag 'Online Services Department'. The system was formally launched on 1 September 2005, and in 2008 the Bundestag moved to a new system based on its evaluation.[9]

Bundestag Tasks articles: 7

Electoral term

The Bundestag is elected for four years, and new elections must be held between 46 and 48 months after the beginning of its electoral term, unless the Bundestag is dissolved prematurely. Its term ends when the next Bundestag convenes, which must occur within 30 days of the election.[10] Prior to 1976, there could be a period where one Bundestag had been dissolved and the next Bundestag could not be convened; during this period, the rights of the Bundestag were exercised by a so-called "Permanent Committee".[11]


Germany uses the mixed-member proportional representation system, a system of proportional representation combined with elements of first-past-the-post voting. The Bundestag has 598 nominal members, elected for a four-year term; these seats are distributed between the sixteen German states in proportion to the states' population eligible to vote.[12]

Every elector has two votes: a constituency vote (first vote) and a party list vote (second vote). Based solely on the first votes, 299 members are elected in single-member constituencies by first-past-the-post voting. The second votes are used to produce a proportional number of seats for parties, first in the states, and then on the federal level. Seats are allocated using the Sainte-Laguë method. If a party wins fewer constituency seats in a state than its second votes would entitle it to, it receives additional seats from the relevant state list. Parties can file lists in every single state under certain conditions – for example, a fixed number of supporting signatures. Parties can receive second votes only in those states in which they have filed a state list.[12]

If a party, by winning single-member constituencies in one state, receives more seats than it would be entitled to according to its second vote share in that state (so-called overhang seats), the other parties receive compensation seats. Owing to this provision, the Bundestag usually has more than 598 members. The 19th and current Bundestag, for example, has 709 seats: 598 regular seats and 111 overhang and compensation seats. Overhang seats are calculated at the state level, so many more seats are added to balance this out among the different states, adding more seats than would be needed to compensate for overhang at the national level in order to avoid negative vote weight.[12]

In order to qualify for seats based on the party-list vote share, a party must either win three single-member constituencies via first votes or exceed a threshold of 5% of the second votes nationwide. If a party only wins one or two single-member constituencies and fails to get at least 5% of the second votes, it keeps the single-member seat(s), but other parties that accomplish at least one of the two threshold conditions receive compensation seats.[12] In the most recent example of this, during the 2002 election, the PDS won only 4.0% of the second votes nationwide, but won two constituencies in the state of Berlin.[13] The same applies if an independent candidate wins a single-member constituency,[12] which has not happened since the 1949 election.[13]

If a voter cast a first vote for a successful independent candidate or a successful candidate whose party failed to qualify for proportional representation, his or her second vote does not count toward proportional representation. However, it does count toward whether the elected party exceeds the 5% threshold.[12]

Parties representing recognized national minorities (currently Danes, Frisians, Sorbs, and Romani people) are exempt from the 5% threshold, but normally only run in state elections.[12]

Bundestag ballot from the 2005 election in the Würzburg district. The column for the constituency vote (with the name, occupation, and address of each candidate) is on the left in black print; the column for the party list vote (showing top five list candidates in the state) is on the right in blue print.

Bundestag Election articles: 11

Election result

The last federal elections were held on Sunday, 24 September 2017, to elect the members of the 19th Bundestag.

The election saw the CDU/CSU win 33% of the vote, a drop of more than 8% and its lowest share of the vote since 1949, while the SPD also suffered its worst result since the 1949 with just 20% of the vote. Alternative for Germany (AfD)—which was previously unrepresented in the Bundestag—became the third largest party in the Bundestag with 12.6% of the vote and a plurality of the vote in Saxony. The FDP reentered the Bundestag after its exodus following the 2013 election loss where they fell under the 5% vote threshold:They had a result of 10.7%. The Left and the Greens obtain marginal increases of 0.6% and 0.5% coming in at totals of 9.2% and 8.9% respectively. No party won an outright majority in any state, including Bavaria, where the CSU often wins majorities and won a majority of the vote in 2013.

Party Constituency Party list Total
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats
Christian Democratic Union (CDU)[g] 14,030,751 30.2 185 12,447,656 26.8 15 200 −55
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 11,429,231 24.6 59 9,539,381 20.5 94 153 −40
Alternative for Germany (AfD) 5,317,499 11.5 3 5,878,115 12.6 91 94 +94
Free Democratic Party (FDP) 3,249,238 7.0 0 4,999,449 10.7 80 80 +80
The Left (DIE LINKE) 3,966,637 8.6 5 4,297,270 9.2 64 69 +5
Alliance 90/The Greens (GRÜNE) 3,717,922 8.0 1 4,158,400 8.9 66 67 +4
Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU)[g] 3,255,487 7.0 46 2,869,688 6.2 0 46 −10
Free Voters 589,056 1.3 0 463,292 1.0 0 0 0
Die PARTEI 245,659 0.5 0 454,349 1.0 0 0 0
Human Environment Animal Protection 22,917 0.0 0 374,179 0.8 0 0 0
National Democratic Party 45,169 0.1 0 176,020 0.4 0 0 0
Pirate Party Germany 93,196 0.2 0 173,476 0.4 0 0 0
Ecological Democratic Party 166,228 0.4 0 144,809 0.3 0 0 0
Basic Income Alliance 97,539 0.2 0 0 New
V-Partei³ 1,201 0.0 0 64,073 0.1 0 0 New
German Centre 63,203 0.1 0 0 New
Democracy in Motion 60,914 0.1 0 0 New
Bavaria Party 62,622 0.1 0 58,037 0.1 0 0 0
AD-DEMOCRATS 41,251 0.1 0 0 New
Animal Protection Alliance 6,114 0.0 0 32,221 0.1 0 0 New
Marxist–Leninist Party of Germany 35,760 0.1 0 29,785 0.1 0 0 0
Healthresearch 1,537 0.0 0 23,404 0.1 0 0 New
German Communist Party 7,517 0.0 0 11,558 0.0 0 0 New
Human World 2,205 0.0 0 11,661 0.0 0 0 New
The Greys 4,300 0.0 0 10,009 0.0 0 0 New
Bürgerrechtsbewegung Solidarität 15,960 0.0 0 6,693 0.0 0 0 0
The Humanists 5,991 0.0 0 0 New
Magdeburger Garden Party 2,570 0.0 0 5,617 0.0 0 0 New
Alliance for Germany 6,316 0.0 0 9,631 0.0 0 0 0
The Urbans 772 0.0 0 3,032 0.0 0 0 New
The Right 1,142 0.0 0 2,054 0.0 0 0 New
Socialist Equality Party 903 0.0 0 1,291 0.0 0 0 0
Bergpartei, die "ÜberPartei" 672 0.0 0 911 0.0 0 0 New
Party of Reason 242 0.0 0 533 0.0 0 0 0
The Violets – for Spiritual Politics 2,176 0.0 0 0 0
Alliance C 1,717 0.0 0 0 New
New Liberals 884 0.0 0 0 New
The Union 371 0.0 0 0 New
Family Party 506 0.0 0 0 0
The Women 439 0.0 0 0 New
Renter's Party 1,352 0.0 0 0 New
Others 100,889 0.2 0 0
Independents 2,458 0.0 0 0 0
Invalid/blank votes 586,726 460,849
Total 46,976,341 100 299 46,976,341 100 410 709 +78
Registered voters/turnout 61,688,485 76.2 61,688,485 76.2
Source: Bundeswahlleiter

Bundestag Election result articles: 22

List of Bundestag by session

Seat distribution in the German Bundestag (at the beginning of each session)
Session Election Seats CDU/CSU SPD FDP GRÜNE[h] DIE LINKE[i] AfD Others
1st 1949 402 139 131 52 –   – 80[j]
2nd 1953 487 243 151 48 –   – 45[k]
3rd 1957 497 270 169 41 17[l]
4th 1961 499 242 190 67
5th 1965 496 245 202 49
6th 1969 496 242 224 30
7th 1972 496 225 230 41
8th 1976 496 243 214 39
9th 1980 497 226 218 53
10th 1983 498 244 193 34 27
11th 1987 497 223 186 46 42
12th 1990 662 319 239 79 8 17
13th 1994 672 294 252 47 49 30
14th 1998 669 245 298 43 47 36
15th 2002 603 248 251 47 55 2
16th 2005 614 226 222 61 51 54
17th 2009 622 239 146 93 68 76
18th 2013 630 311 192 63 64
19th 2017 709 246 153 80 67 69 94
  Parties in the ruling coalition
Seat distribution in the Bundestag from 1949 to 2017

Parties that were only present between 1949 and 1957

Timeline of the political parties who got elected into the Bundestag
1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 2020s
9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
Bavaria Party
div. B’90 Alliance 90/The Greens
The Greens
WASG The Left

Bundestag List of Bundestag by session articles: 11