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Overhang mandates

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

Legal situation since the Bundestag election of 2013

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.

Overhang mandates created in Bundestag elections 1949 to 2009 (as at election day)
Year of the Bundestag election Number of constituencies Total seats 1 Overhang mandates
total in the Land number party
1949 242 410 2 Bremen 1 SPD
Baden-Württemberg 1 CDU
1953 242 509 3 Schleswig-Holstein 2 CDU
Hamburg 1 DP
1957 247 519 3 Schleswig-Holstein 3 CDU
1961 247 521 5 Schleswig-Holstein 4 CDU
Saarland 1 CDU
1965 248 518 0
1969 248 518 0
1972 248 518 0
1976 248 518 0
1980 248 519 1 Schleswig-Holstein 1 SPD
1983 248 520 2 Hamburg 1 SPD
Bremen 1 SPD
1987 248 519 1 Baden-Württemberg 1 CDU
1990 328 662 6 Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 2 CDU
Sachsen-Anhalt 3 CDU
Thüringen 1 CDU
1994 328 672 16 Baden-Württemberg 2 CDU
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 2 CDU
Sachsen-Anhalt 2 CDU
Thüringen 3 CDU
Sachsen 3 CDU
Bremen 1 SPD
Brandenburg 3 SPD
1998 328 669 13 Hamburg 1 SPD
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 2 SPD
Brandenburg 3 SPD
Sachsen-Anhalt 4 SPD
Thüringen 3 SPD
2002 299 603 5 Hamburg 1 SPD
Sachsen-Anhalt 2 SPD
Thüringen 1 SPD
Sachsen 1 CDU
2005 299 614 16 Hamburg 1 SPD
Brandenburg 3 SPD
Sachsen-Anhalt 4 SPD
Saarland 1 SPD
Sachsen 4 CDU
Baden-Württemberg 3 CDU
2009 299 622 24 Schleswig-Holstein 1 CDU
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 2 CDU
Sachsen 4 CDU
Thüringen 1 CDU
Rheinland-Pfalz 2 CDU
Bayern 3 CSU
Baden-Württemberg 10 CDU
Saarland 1 CDU
Total X X 97 of which: 59 CDU
34 SPD
3 CSU
1 DP

1  Including Bundestag members representing Berlin.

 

Legal situation since the Bundestag election of 2013

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). Any overhang generated in the two-stage process of seat allocation is now balanced completely by extra mandates so that there is no overhang anymore in the final distribution of seats.

Extra mandates created in Bundestag elections 2013 to 2017 (as at election day)
Year of the Bundestag election Number of constituencies Total seats Overhang Extra mandates
total number party total number party
2013 299 631 4 CDU 4 29 CDU 13
SPD 10
DIE LINKE 4
GRÜNE 2
2017 299 709 46 CDU 36 65 SPD 19
CSU 7 DIE LINKE 10
SPD 3 GRÜNE 10
FDP 15
AfD 11

Last update: 6 December 2019