The complex two-vote ballot system and the fragmentation of the political landscape are fueling an inflation in the number of deputies: 735 elected members will join the Bundestag, the new XXL parliament.

The fragmentation of the German political landscape will not only complicate the formation of a coalition. It will swell the ranks of deputies elected to the Bundestag, to the point of making it an XXL parliament. While it has 598 seats, it will now have to accommodate 735 elected officials.

Already in 2017, the Bundestag saw the number of its deputies increase by 12% to reach 709 elected, that is to say 111 more than the number of seats planned. This inflation is due to the complex system of the German mixed voting system. The 60.4 million Germans called to the polls each have two votes: a first to directly elect the candidate for their constituency and a second to choose the list of their preferred party.

In principle, the 598 seats should be divided equally between directly elected deputies and parties nominated by list. But now, the ballot provides that it is the second vote that determines the distribution of seats in the Bundestag. The problem therefore arises when the voters do not affect their two votes in the same way: it is indeed necessary to make apothecary calculations to balance direct mandates and party weight!

If a party received more direct mandates by the first vote than it is entitled to according to the result of the second vote, it can in effect keep them. This is called redundancy mandates. Consequently, in order to respect the balance of forces in the Bundestag determined by the second vote, the other parties receive new compensatory mandates according to their weight.

The fragmentation of the landscape feeds the inflation of these two types of mandates. Because the major parties of the CDU-CSU Union and the SPD may have retained more direct mandates of candidates well anchored in their territory, their lists have lost importance in favor of other parties whose representativeness must be ensured.

A reform was decided last year to try to limit the inflation of the number of deputies: this time the seats will be partly compensated within the parties between the mandates for the first and the second vote. But it is a reduction in the current number of constituencies that would have really made it possible to limit the number of deputies. This was what was decided in 2002: the latter had then gone from 328 to 299. Recommended by the Greens, the FDP and the radical left (die Linke), this option was rejected by the CDU-CSU Union and the SPD who feared losing influence.

In addition to the increased inertia that threatens the Bundestag, this unresolved puzzle is costly: the federal state has mobilized nearly 70 million euros to build a new building with 400 offices near the Reichstag, on the other side of the river Spree. The new deputies will therefore be able to be accommodated by the end of the year. The question of places in the Chamber of Deputies itself, where the Chancellor will be elected, remains to be settled.

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Ref: https://www.lesechos.fr