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Electoral scrutiny

The scrutiny procedure examines the validity of a Bundestag election or a European election and whether subjective rights have been violated in the election procedure. Electoral scrutiny is the responsibility of the German Bundestag. Although the checking of electoral documents by the constituency/district/town returning officer and Land returning officer immediately after the election is sometimes also referred to as scrutiny of the election, this is not electoral scrutiny in the narrow sense.

The electoral scrutiny procedure is governed by the provisions of the Law on the Scrutiny of Elections. To initiate the procedure, a written objection has to be lodged with the German Bundestag. Such an objection may be filed by anyone entitled to vote, any group of persons entitled to vote and, in their official capacities, by any Land returning officer, the Federal Returning Officer and the President of the German Bundestag. The objection has to be substantiated. It has to be received by the German Bundestag within two months after election day. The decision of the Bundestag is prepared by the Committee for the Scrutiny of Elections. The German Bundestag finally decides on the objection in plenary sitting. Within two months’ time, a complaint against that decision may be lodged with the Federal Constitutional Court (electoral complaint).

Objections and electoral complaints in Bundestag elections
Year of the
Bundestag election
Objections lodged
with the Bundestag
Complaints lodged with the
Federal Constitutional Court
1949 22 7
1953 14 9
1957 6 2
1961 17 6
1965 39 7
1969 31 7
1972 40 6
1976 38 4
1980 57 9
1983 43 7
1986 40 6
1990 83 17
1994 1,453 28
1998 111 23
2002 520 19
2005 195 17
2009 163 23
2013 224 58
2017 275 83
Legal bases

Bundestag election:

Article 41 paragraph 1 of the Basic Law (GG)
Section 49 of the Federal Elections Act (BWG)
Law on the Scrutiny of Elections (WPrüfG)

European election:

Section 26 (1), (2) of the European Elections Act (EuWG)
Law on the Scrutiny of Elections (WPrüfG)

Last update: 10 November 2020