Facts about Germany 2015 2015 - Page 16

14 | 15 AT A GLANCE PARLIAMENT & PARTIES The German Bundestag is elected every four years by free, secret, and direct ballot by citizens aged 18 and over who are eligible to vote. The Bundestag is the German parliament. Half of Parties the at least 598 seats in the Bundestag are allocated through the election of candidates put up by the parties on state lists (second votes), the other half through the election of persons in 299 constituencies (first votes). The German electoral system makes it difficult for any one Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) 457,488 members 2013 election result: 34.1 percent party to form a government on its own – meaning that a coalition tends to be the rule. In order to prevent complications in the formation of majorities by the presence of small and very small parties, a threshold, known as “the five percent hurdle” excludes parties that poll less than that being represented in the Bundestag. Social Democratic Party of G ermany (SPD) 459,902 members 2013 election result: 25.7 percent Five parties are currently represented in the Bundestag: CDU, CSU, SPD, The Left party, and Alliance 90/The Greens. Ever since the first election to the Bundestag in 1949, CDU and its sister party CSU, which only stands in Bavaria, The Left party 60,547 members 2013 election result: 8.6 percent have formed a single parliamentary party. In the 2013 election to the Bundestag, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) failed to clear the five percent hurdle and is thus not represented in the Bundestag for the first time since 1949. The current Federal Government is made up of a Alliance 90 / The Greens 60,329 members 2013 election result: 8.4 percent coalition of CDU/CSU and SPD, with Dr. Angela Merkel (CDU) as the Federal Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) as Deputy Chancellor and Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) as Federal Foreign Minister. The Left party and the Greens form the parliamentary opposition. Christian Social Union (CSU) 146,536 members 2013 election result: 7.4 percent