The current legislative period of the largest German Bundestag to date will end in a few weeks: 709 MPs crowded into the plenary hall, and they and their employees into the office wing. It is quite possible that they will have to move even closer together over the next four years.
At least that was what the Groko wanted to prevent. It looks like she can only hope that she won't break this promise.
Robert Vehrkamp has been dealing with the federal election law for a long time. He has written analyzes for the Bertelsmann Foundation, advised political parties and sits on an expert committee of the Bundestag. Now, together with colleagues from the Bertelsmann Foundation, he has presented an analysis based on the website's calculations election.de is based.
It shows: Even if the polls stay the same as they are now, it will Bundestag possibly even bigger than it is now, maybe even much bigger. Even around 1000 MPs are not excluded.
Minimal compromise after long negotiations
Intensive negotiations had preceded, over several years, many warnings from the President of the Bundestag faded away until the Union and SPD agreed on a reform of the electoral law last summer. However, only a minimal compromisewho tweaks a few different levers in order, according to the idea, not to permanently solve the problem, but at least to prevent a huge Bundestag.
Observers had hardly expected this compromise themselves, although it was precisely the parties themselves who had constantly emphasized that reform was necessary. The reason for this is the German mixed voting rights:
With the First vote one chooses Direct candidates in one of the 299 constituencies. Whoever gets the most votes receives a guaranteed place in the Bundestag, regardless of how their own party fares.
With the Second vote one chooses parties via their country lists. This second vote decides on the Seat share a party in the Bundestag: 30 percent Union or 20 percent SPD.
Problems arise when parties win many more constituencies and thus more seats in the Bundestag than they would actually be entitled to based on their second share of the vote - this was particularly the case with the Union.
In this case, the Bundestag is enlarged to compensate for so-called overhang mandates and compensatory mandates until all 299 directly elected constituency winners have a place - but a 30 percent party also has exactly 30 percent of the seats in the Bundestag.
Parliament grows as a result. He was supposed to have 598 MPs, 630 after the 2013 election and 709 after the 2017 election. And soon? 800? 850? 900? That shouldn't happen, the parties assured. At least further growth should be avoided in the future. But it could happen, the new analysis shows.
Influence of the tactical choice
It systematically includes both voices: the first voice and the second voice - a phenomenon called voice splitting. With the second vote, people usually vote for the party they most agree with. It looks different with the first vote.
Majority suffrage applies in the constituencies: only the winner benefits, the votes for the other candidates fizzle out. Some of the voters, especially those from smaller parties, have therefore often voted tactically in the past with the first vote, namely direct candidates who seemed to have a realistic chance of first place.
For example, many people gave their second vote to the FDP, but their first vote to the CDU or CSU
Many also voted Greens with the second vote, but the SPD with the first vote.
According to Vehrkamp and his people, around a quarter of voters split the two votes between different parties.
Vehrkamp and his team have therefore examined how the size of the Bundestag will change if, given the same second vote result, one assumes that this split of votes will change somewhat - and thus ultimately the distribution of direct mandates. The findings are remarkable.
In Any results can be run through an online calculator. The team has also prepared an example with four scenarios to illustrate this. The basis was the average result from seven Germany-wide surveys between June 15 and 25. Union: 28,6 percent. Greens: 20,6 percent. SPD: 15,6 percent. FDP: 11,9 percent. AfD: 10,1 percent. Left: 6,9 percent.
Depending on which splitting behavior is assumed, four completely different results come out with these values.
In theory, a Bundestag with a regular size of 598 members would be conceivable (albeit extremely unlikely).
But a parliament with 963 seats, which the authors call the “XXL Bundestag”, would also be possible.
In between there is an "L-Bundestag" with 710 seats, which would still be larger than it is now, and an "XL" scenario with 857 seats.
The most important thing is how many direct mandates the CDU gets. In the "XXL" scenario, the Union won 286 out of 299 constituencies. That is very unlikely, but it can also be imagined without making any false assumptions. But it could conquer very many constituencies even with a rather weak second vote result of less than 30 percent.
In many areas, the CDU is still the strongest force. Many FDP voters should still support the Union candidates with the first vote. And of those who recently voted for the CDU, but now favor the Greens, some could continue to vote for the direct candidates of the Christian Democrats.
Robert Vehrkamp from the Bertelsmann Foundation thinks it is important that the invoices do not represent any forecasts. The point is not to predict how big the Bundestag will be, but to show that an extremely large parliament is not unlikely at all. "On the evening of the election, we should therefore keep our fingers crossed: one for the party of one's own choice and the other for an acceptable size of the Bundestag."
He criticizes the government, which has not passed any other more effective reform, and fears that this may continue to be unlikely in the future. "The sad lesson from the failed electoral reform of this electoral term is: the larger the Bundestag, the greater the resistance to its downsizing."