Additional parliamentary seats called overhang mandates could be the result of Bundestag elections from 1949 to 2009. Electoral legislation was amended in 2013. Since then there have not been any overhang mandates in the final distribution of seats because further mandates are provided to make up for the overhang mandates. There can be no overhang mandates in European elections as every voter has only one vote.
The German Bundestag is elected in accordance with the principles of proportional representation in combination with a candidate-centred election. While the 299 constituency candidates are elected directly by the first votes cast (candidate-centred election), the number of second votes won by a party determines how many of the 598 seats that party will get (proportional representation).
Legal situation until the Bundestag election of 2009
Overhang mandates were provided whenever a party won more constituency seats in a Land than it was entitled to by its share of second votes. As a consequence, the composition of the Bundestag did not correspond exactly to the distribution of second votes among the parties. This impaired electoral equality and parties' equal opportunities.
The Federal Constitutional Court therefore ruled by decision of 25 July 2012 (2 BvE 9/11, 2 BvF 3/11, 2 BvR 2670/11) that Section 6 (5) of the Federal Elections Act in the version in force at the time was unconstitutional because overhang mandates were not offset by further mandates even when a large number of overhang mandates was created. The Court ruled that no more than approximately 15 uncompensated overhang mandates may be created, which is half of the mandates required to form a parliamentary group.
|Year of the Bundestag election||Number of constituencies||Total seats 1||Overhang mandates|
|total||in the Land||number||party|
1 Including Bundestag members representing Berlin.
The legislator then modified the provision by the 22nd Ordinance amending the Federal Elections Act of 3 May 2013 (Federal Law Gazette I p. 1082). Until the 2017 Bundestag Election, any overhang generated in the two-stage process of seat allocation was balanced completely by extra mandates so that there were no overhang mandates anymore at the end of the distribution process.
The 25th Ordinance amending the Federal Elections Act of 14 November 2020 (BGBl. I p. 2395) slightly modified the calculation procedure. In accordance with the amendment, a maximum of three overhang mandates can remain at the end of the allocation process. Any additional overhang is offset in the calculation process by increasing the number of seats.
|Year of the Bundestag election||Number of constituencies||Total seats||Party||Overhang||Extra mandates|
|impending||remaining||without overhang||with overhang|
Last update: 22 October 2021