You may have heard rumblings about a populist party poised to gain power in Germany’s election on Sept. 24 — or maybe you just heard that there’s an election coming up. To better prepare you for the news coming out of Deutschland over the next few weeks, we’re offering some answers to a few basic questions about the election.

What are Germans voting on?

German voters will choose the makeup of their main legislative body, the Bundestag, which will in turn choose the next chancellor.32 Specifically, Germans cast two votes on election day every four years: one for a candidate and one for a political party. The party vote might seem strange — candidates usually belong to parties already, the way they do in the U.S. — but it exists to make sure the Bundestag reflects the party preferences of the overall electorate.33 The votes for individual candidates determine who will represent each of the Germany’s 299 districts in the Bundestag, and once those representatives are selected, more members are added until the party breakdown exactly matches the breakdown of party votes — excluding any parties that did not win at least 5 percent of the vote.34

To achieve the right proportions, the total number of representatives in the Bundestag can vary with each federal election, but it is always at least 598. Unless a single party wins a simple majority — which is rare — multiple parties will need to join forces to form a governing coalition that, collectively makes up at least 50 percent of the Bundestag. The Bundestag then elects a chancellor, who typically comes from the biggest party in the governing coalition.

German minister says too many people are speaking English in Berlin

German politician Jens Spahn says too many people are speaking English in everyday life in the country.

%d bloggers like this: