20 September 2005

Dresden gets to decide

German Election: Will Dresden Decide Germany's Next Chancellor?
In truth, it is the complicated permutations of the German electoral system that have turned Dresden into such a hot button area. Although only one representative will actually be elected in the district, Germany's 'second vote' system -- in which individuals vote for a party they want to see in parliament -- could produce three extra parliamentary seats for Dresden. These are known as 'overhang' seats and are created to reflect more accurately and more democratically a party's true support. And it is these seats that are being eyed by the politicians. The current breakdown of seats in parliament is SPD 222, CDU 225. So those three seats could make a big difference and transform Dresden into the German kingmaker.


Indeed, there are already murmurings of a new Dresden "poker game" in which the Left Party might be convinced to encourage its voters to vote for the SPD. Its own candidate, Katja Kipping, is already assured a parliamentary seat due to the second vote system. So that leaves the party and its voters free to maneuver.

The Dresden electorate has one deputy and last time the CDU won it with 33.8% of the vote. That could change if, for instance the Left Party or the Greens asked their people to vote SPD. The electorate will also, effectively generate 1 or more extra deputies through its list votes. A huge turnout for the SPD or the Left could feasibly generate a third seat. It's where a whole lot of bets break down and the great weakness of MMP, using first past the post to elect district MPs, suddenly comes into play.

I am beginning to suspect the new Bundestag may play out without electing a chancellor. If they cannot do that within a fixed time the Federal President has to dissolve them and call another election.

1 comment:

Rich said...

Can you explain more about how the overhang seats in the German system work?

NZ only has an overhang where one party gets more electorate seats than they are due for their party vote share (e.g. the Maori party this time) - this doesn't happen very often because normally a party gets more or less list MPs depending on their party vote and number of electorates won - overhangs happen when the number of list MPs would be negative).