Distribution of seats in the 20th German Bundestag
Distribution of seats in the 20th electoral term
© German Bundestag/Schmitz/Klimpel
The number of seats a party has in the Bundestag depends on its results in the elections. The more votes a party wins in the Bundestag elections, the more seats it gets. Electors cast their second votes to choose a particular party, whilst using their first votes to choose a specific person. ‘Overhang’ and ‘balance’ mandates also play an important role in the distribution of seats. Overhang mandates can be created if a large number of people split their votes, rather than casting them both for a party and the same party’s constituency candidate. When one party wins overhang mandates, the other parties are compensated with balance mandates. In this way, all the parties receive sufficient additional balance seats to bring the distribution of seats into line with the results of the second votes.