The statistical analysis of elections is, on the one hand, the analysis of data available from
the electoral bodies (= general electoral statistics) and the analysis of data stemming from the
official ballot papers with an imprint indicating the sex and age of the voters (= representative
electoral statistics) on the other hand.
The fundamental principle of all electoral statistics is to preserve the secrecy of the
General electoral statistics mainly cover the number of persons entitled to vote, of voters
and non-voters, valid and invalid votes, and the number of votes cast for each nomination broken
down by Länder, Bundestag constituencies, towns not attached to an administrative district and
rural districts, municipalities and polling districts. Representative electoral statistics serve to
provide data in representatively selected polling districts on the sex and age structure of persons
eligible to vote and of voters, taking into account their votes for individual nominations. It
serves the need for information in many areas of our society because it provides information on the
pattern of voting, i.e., the voter turnout and voting in different groups of the population.
The compilation of representative electoral statistics was suspended in the 1994 Bundestag
Election by the Law enacted on 28 September 1994 (Federal Law Gazette I, p. 2734) and in the 1998
Bundestag Election by the Law enacted on 25 August 1998 (Federal Law Gazette I, p. 2430).
In keeping with the Law on the general and representative electoral statistics for the
election to the German Bundestag and the election of the members to the European Parliament from
the Federal Republic of Germany (Law on Electoral Statistics) of 21 May 1999 (Federal Law Gazette
I, p. 1023) amended by the Law enacted on 17 January 2002 (Federal Law Gazette I, p. 412),
representative electoral statistics have again been compiled since the 2002 Bundestag Election. The
Law on Electoral Statistics has been applied in European elections in 1999 for the first time.
The rules set forth in the Law on Electoral Statistics stipulate that the previous practice
shall be legally binding; they are a more specific legal basis for a statistical analysis of
elections than the provisions on statistics set forth in the Federal Elections Act and the Federal
Electoral Regulations or the European Elections Act and the European Electoral Regulations, which
were repealed by the Law on Electoral Statistics.
The 2002 Bundestag Election and the 2004 European Election are the first elections in which
postal voters were also covered by representative electoral statistics to avoid distortions.
1 General electoral statistics
General electoral statistics document the election results determined and ascertained by the
electoral bodies and the general information obtained in the process.
The results of both Bundestag and European elections can be processed and analysed in detail
by this statistics. The focus of electoral statistics is on the distribution of valid votes among
parties in the country as a whole and in the individual regions (municipalities, districts,
constituencies) on the one hand, and on general studies of the persons entitled to vote, the voter
turnout at the polls, polling card voters, non-voters and persons casting an invalid vote on the
The picture obtained by analysing this kind of data is complemented by comparative figures
from previous elections. For this purpose, the absolute numbers as well as the relative numbers
(percentages) of each election year are compared. For clarification, average numbers, tendencies
etc. are calculated. Changes from one election to another are established as percentages and
percentage points (difference between the percentage figures). Candidates and elected candidates
are also analysed statistically, this is done in separate analyses by nominations. These statistics
provide information, for example, on age and sex and on the occupational group to which the
2 Representative electoral statistics
The secrecy of the ballot and thus data protection are guaranteed.
The statistical analysis of elections is restricted by the requirement to preserve the
secrecy of the ballot. Any violation of the secrecy of the ballot is precluded. The method employed
in ascertaining the votes cast by men and women leaves no room for a violation of the secrecy of
the ballot. Although the bodies counting the votes may establish, for instance, how many men and
women of each of the five age groups formed voted for a certain party,
it is impossible to reach any conclusion on how any individuals have cast their votes
because there is a large number of people in each age group of men and women. The ballot paper in
the representatively selected polling districts merely has an imprint indicating the sex of the
voter and assigning him or her to one of the five age groups and thus contains no personal data for
that would be in contradiction with the secrecy of the ballot. The survey is anonymous and intended
to serve statistical purposes only. The voters' registers and the marked ballot papers must not be
matched. The polling districts selected for the purposes of representative electoral statistics
must have at least 400 persons entitled to vote and the postal ballot districts selected must have
a minimum of 400 voters.
2.1 How are representative polling districts chosen ?
From the approximately 90,000 polling districts (including postal ballot districts), roughly
2,700 polling districts for ballot-box voting and approximately 400 postal ballot districts are
selected at random for the purposes of representative electoral statistics of Bundestag and
European elections. This ensures that the polling districts chosen are representative of the entire
electoral area and of the individual Länder. The districts are selected by the Federal Returning
Officer in co-operation with the Land returning officers and the statistical offices of the Länder.
2.2 Who analyses the data?
The data collected on the basis of representative electoral statistics are analysed by the
statistical offices of the Länder and the Federal Statistical Office. The data gathered from the
districts which are contained in the random sample are first extrapolated for each Land to obtain
the total number of persons entitled to vote and of voters. The extrapolated figures for each Land
are then aggregated to establish the result for the federal territory, which is published for the
federal territory and the Länder. The data can also be made available to individual municipalities
where representative statistics have been compiled so that they can publish aggregate results. In
order to protect the secrecy of the ballot, results for individual polling districts contained in
the random sample must not be released.
2.3 What data are collected?
The turnout at the polls of male and female persons eligible to vote and male and female
voters is counted in the polling districts of the random sample according to the following ten age
groups using the voters’ registers:
under 21, 21 to 24, 25 to 29, 30 to 34, 35 to 39, 40 to 44, 45 to 49, 50 to 59, 60 to
69, 70 and over.
votes cast by men and women for the individual parties is analysed for the following five
under 25, 25 to 34, 35 to 44, 45 to 59, 60 and over.
votes cast are counted on the basis of official
ballot papers with
differentiating imprint (man, woman, age group according to year of birth).
Sections 1 to 8 of the Law on Electoral Statistics (WStatG)
Last update: March 2008
©2012 The Federal Returning Officer