2013 German federal election

2013 German federal election

← 2009 22 September 2013 (2013-09-22) 2017 →

All 631 seats in the Bundestag, including 33 overhang and leveling seats
316 seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls
Registered61,946,900 Decrease 0.4%
Turnout44,309,925 (71.5%) Increase 0.7pp
  First party Second party Third party
  Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel bei einer Wahlkampfveranstaltung 2013 (Recortada).jpg Next Peer Steinbrück (SPD) (cropped).jpg Gregor Gysi (2013).jpg
Candidate Angela Merkel Peer Steinbrück Gregor Gysi[a]
Party CDU/CSU SPD Left
Last election 33.8%, 239 seats 23.0%, 146 seats 11.9%, 76 seats
Seats won 311 193 64
Seat change Increase 72 Increase 47 Decrease 12
Popular vote 18,165,446 11,252,215 3,755,699
Percentage 41.5% 25.7% 8.6%
Swing Increase 7.7pp Increase 2.7pp Decrease 3.3pp

  Fourth party Fifth party
  Jürgen Trittin y Katrin Göring-Eckardt 2013.JPG 13-06-10-dosb-wahlhearing-podium-022 (cropped).jpg
Candidate Jürgen Trittin &
Katrin Göring-Eckardt
Rainer Brüderle
Party Green FDP
Last election 10.7%, 68 seats 14.6%, 93 seats
Seats won 63 0
Seat change Decrease 5 Decrease 93
Popular vote 3,694,057 2,083,533
Percentage 8.4% 4.8%
Swing Decrease 2.3pp Decrease 9.8pp

German Federal Election 2013 - Results By Constituency.svg
The left side shows constituency winners of the election by their party colours. The right side shows party list winners of the election for the additional members by their party colours.

Government before election

Second Merkel cabinet

Government after election

Third Merkel cabinet

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Federal elections were held on 22 September to elect the members of the 18th Bundestag of Germany.[1] At stake were all 598 seats to the Bundestag, plus 33 overhang seats determined thereafter. The Christian Democratic Union of Germany/Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CDU/CSU) of incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel won their best result since 1990 with nearly 42% of the vote and nearly 50% of the seats, just five short for an overall majority. The Free Democratic Party (FDP) failed to meet the 5% vote electoral threshold in what was their worst showing ever in a federal election, denying them seats in the Bundestag for the first time in their history.

As the FDP, the CDU/CSU's junior coalition partner, failed to get any seats and a red–green alliance, which governed Germany from 1998 to 2005, did not have enough seats for a majority, the only possible coalition without the CDU/CSU was a left-wing red–red–green coalition government. Merkel scared it off, and both the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and Alliance 90/The Greens ruled out governing with The Left. Ultimately, Merkel's party reached a coalition agreement with the then-main opposition party, the SPD, to form a grand coalition, the third in the country's history since World War II. The SPD leadership conducted a ratification vote by their broader membership before the agreement was made final. The grand coalition was renewed after the 2017 German federal election due to failure during the negotiations of a Jamaica coalition.


In the 2009 German federal election, the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and its sister party, the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU), and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) won the election with Angela Merkel as Chancellor of Germany and Guido Westerwelle as Vice-Chancellor of Germany.[2]


The date of the federal election is governed by the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (Germany's constitution) and the Federal Election Law (Bundeswahlgesetz). Article 39 of the Basic Law states that the Bundestag shall be elected between 46 and 48 months after the beginning of the legislative period.[3] As the 17th Bundestag convened on 27 October 2009, the election was scheduled between 27 August and 27 October 2013.[4] To avoid school holidays, a date in late September is usually chosen; this made 15 or 22 September 2013 the most likely dates.[5] The President of Germany ordered 22 September 2013 to be the election day upon the recommendation of the federal government.[6]

Polling stations were open from 8:00 to 18:00.[1]

Electoral system

According to Article 38 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, members of the Bundestag shall be elected in general, direct, free, equal, and secret elections; everyone over the age of eighteen is entitled to vote.[7]

In 2008, some modifications to the electoral system were required under an order of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany. The court had found a provision in the Federal Election Law by which it was possible for a party to experience a negative vote weight, namely losing seats due to more votes, violated the constitutional guarantee of the electoral system being equal and direct.[8] The court allowed three years for these changes, so the 2009 German federal election was not affected. The changes were due by 30 June 2011 but appropriate legislation was not completed by that deadline. A new electoral law was enacted in late 2011 but was declared unconstitutional once again by the Federal Constitutional Court upon lawsuits from the opposition parties and a group of some 4,000 private citizens.[9]

Four of the five factions in the Bundestag agreed on an electoral reform whereby the number of seats in the Bundestag will be increased as much as necessary to ensure that any overhang seats are compensated through apportioned leveling seats, to ensure full proportionality according to the political party's share of party votes at the national level.[10] The Bundestag approved and enacted the new electoral reform in February 2013.[11]

The Bundestag is elected using mixed-member proportional representation, meaning that each voter has two votes, a first vote for the election of a constituency candidate by first-past-the-post[12] and a second vote for the election of a state list.[13] The Sainte-Laguë/Schepers method is used to convert the votes into seats,[14] in a two-stage process with each stage involving two calculations. First, the number of seats to be allocated to each state is calculated, based on the proportion of the German population living there. Then the seats in each state are allocated to the party lists in that state, based on the proportion of second votes each party received.[15]

In the distribution of seats among state lists, only parties that have obtained at least five percent of the valid second votes cast in the electoral area or have won a seat in at least three constituencies are taken into consideration.[15] The minimum number of seats for each party at federal level is then determined. This is done by calculating, for each party state list, the number of constituency seats it won on the basis of the first votes, as well as the number of seats to which it is entitled on the basis of the second votes. The higher of these two figures is the party's minimum number of seats in that state. Adding together the minimum number of seats to which the party is entitled in all of the states produces a total representing its guaranteed minimum number of seats in the country as a whole.[15]

In order to ensure that each party receives its guaranteed minimum number of seats when the seats are allocated using the Sainte-Laguë/Schepers method, it may become necessary to increase the number of seats in the Bundestag. Then it must be ensured that the seats are distributed to the parties in line with their national share of the second votes.[15] Additional overhang seats, or balance seats, are created to ensure that the distribution of the seats reflects the parties' share of the second votes and that no party receives fewer than its guaranteed minimum number of seats. Balance seats are also necessary to ensure that each party requires roughly the same number of second votes per seat. Once the number of seats which each party is entitled to receive across the country has been determined, the seats are allocated to the parties' individual state lists. Each state list must receive at least as many seats as the number of constituencies which the party won in the state in question.[15]


Although the chancellor-candidates (Kanzlerkandidaten) play a very important role in election campaigns, their office is not regulated in any law, and it is up to each party to determine how, and if at all, to name a chancellor-candidate. The SPD names a chancellor-candidate, while the CDU and the CSU name a common one. The smaller Bundestag parties (the FDP, the Left, and the Greens) usually[16] do not name a chancellor-candidate as it is very improbable for such a candidate to actually be elected chancellor. They instead name one or two persons (Spitzenkandidaten) who are to become the faces of that party's campaign. Although there is nearly no chance for them to win seats in the Bundestag, especially due to the required minimum quota of votes required to be granted any seats, and much less have their candidate become chancellor, fringe parties sometimes name a chancellor-candidate, such as the Bürgerrechtsbewegung Solidarität with its chancellor-candidate Helga Zepp-LaRouche in the 2009 federal election.[17]

While a sitting chancellor is usually named chancellor-candidate for his or her own party, the main opposition party's process to determine their chancellor-candidate differs. Most times, such a person is determined in an inner party circle and then anointed in a party convention. As the CDU/CSU is the main government party, CDU chairwoman and incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel was not challenged as chancellor-candidate. In the SPD, the situation was a bit less clear, as there were four candidates in the discussion. While the party chairman Sigmar Gabriel, the parliamentary caucus leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and Peer Steinbrück, former minister-president of Nordrhein-Westfalen and former federal minister of Finance, were quasi-official contenders for the candidacy, incumbent Nordrhein-Westfalen minister-president Hannelore Kraft denied interest in the candidacy.[18] Gabriel, Steinmeier, and Steinbrück all had a bad electoral record, as they all had led their party into painful defeats in state or general elections. Gabriel and Steinbrück lost their inherited minister-president offices in 2003 and 2005, and Steinmeier failed as a chancellor-candidate in 2009. On 28 September 2012, the party announced that Steinbrück would be the SPD's chancellor-candidate.[19]


After taking heat domestically for bailing out other European countries, Finance-Minister Wolfgang Schäuble took the step of mentioning that Greece would need a third bailout. This was in stark contrast to his colleagues who had refrained from making such measures in light of the election, in particularly following Merkel's dismissal of a potential future bailout. In reaction to the statement and the dithering, Peer Steinbrueck of the SPD said that it was "time that Mrs. Merkel tells people the truth", while the Greens' Jürgen Trittin of the Greens also criticized Merkel.[20]

Merkel also became the first chancellor to visit Dachau concentration camp after an invitation by former inmate Max Mannheimer, who leads a survivor group, saying: "What happened at the concentration camps was and continues to be incomprehensible." Merkel also warning of a rising tide of antisemitism and racism as a threat to democracy in Europe. Her visit was welcomed by residents of the town due to its historic nature but was also suggested as a vote ploy ahead of the election.[21] She also campaigned on Germany's unemployment record that fell to a two-decade low during her premiership, progress towards a balanced budget, and the Eurozone's advantages for Germany's exports. There were questions asked about her legacy and a potential heir to the party leadership.[22] Campaigning in the "hot phase"[23] ended on 21 September, as Merkel appealed to voters to support her against Eurosceptics.[24]

Televised debates

A 90-minute televised debate between the lead candidates of the CDU/CSU and the SPD, the two leading contenders, was held on 1 September.[25] The smaller-party top-ranking candidates Rainer Brüderle (FDP), Jürgen Trittin (Alliance 90/The Greens), and Gregor Gysi (The Left) held a separate debate on 2 September.[26]

Opinion polling

15-point average trend line of poll results from 2 October 2009 to 22 September 2013, with each line corresponding to a political party.

In Germany, there are regular opinion polls during the whole of the legislative period. Germany's major polling agencies are Allensbach, Emnid, Forsa, Forschungsgruppe Wahlen, GMS, Infratest dimap, and INSA/YouGov. August 2013 opinion polls suggested that the CDU/CSU and the FDP (black–yellow coalition) would be just short of or just above an absolute majority, rather than the SPD and Greens (red–green coalition), partners in Gerhard Schröder-led government (1998–2005).[27]


Parliamentary districts won by
– CDU – CSU – SPD – The Left – Greens
Results of the second vote by state

Only four parties were present in the Bundestag for the first time since the 1987 West German federal election, as the CDU/CSU operates as one Bundestag group. The Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU) scored 42 percent of the vote, their best result since tallying 44% in 1990. Since 15.7 percent of the vote went to parties that fell short of the 5% electoral threshold, the CDU/CSU came up just five seats short of a majority. The Free Democratic Party (FDP), junior partner in the outgoing coalition government, failed to pass the 5% threshold. It also failed to win any directly elected seats, as it has not won any directly elected seats since 1990), shutting it out of the Bundestag altogether for the first time in the party's history. A new Eurosceptic party, Alternative for Germany, nearly won seats but was shut out by narrowly missing the 5% electoral threshold.[28][29]

Deutschland Bundestag 2013.svg
Christian Democratic Union14,921,87734.136416,233,64237.21191255+61
Social Democratic Party11,252,21525.7313512,843,45829.4458193+47
The Left3,755,6998.59603,585,1788.22464−12
Alliance 90/The Greens3,694,0578.45623,180,2997.29163−5
Christian Social Union3,243,5697.42113,544,0798.124556+11
Free Democratic Party2,083,5334.7601,028,6452.3600−93
Alternative for Germany2,056,9854.700810,9151.8600New
Pirate Party Germany959,1772.190963,6232.21000
National Democratic Party560,8281.280635,1351.46000
Free Voters423,9770.970431,6400.9900New
Human Environment Animal Protection140,3660.3204,4370.01000
Ecological Democratic Party127,0880.290128,2090.29000
The Republicans91,1930.21027,2990.06000
Die PARTEI78,6740.18039,3880.09000
Pro Germany Citizens' Movement73,8540.1704,8150.0100New
Bavaria Party57,3950.13028,4300.07000
Democracy by Referendum28,6540.0701,7480.00000
Pensioners' Party25,1340.0609200.00000
Party of Reason24,7190.0603,8610.0100New
Marxist–Leninist Party24,2190.06012,9040.03000
Party of Bible-abiding Christians18,5420.0402,0810.00000
Alliance for Innovation and Justice17,7430.0402,6800.0100New
Bürgerrechtsbewegung Solidarität12,8140.03017,9880.04000
Feminist Party12,1480.03000
Party of the Non-voters11,3490.03000
Alliance 21/RRP8,5780.0205,3240.01000
The Violets8,2110.0202,5160.01000
Family Party7,4490.0204,4780.01000
Party for Social Equality4,5640.01000
The Right2,2450.0100New
German Communist Party1,6990.00000
Federation for a Complete Germany1,4310.00000
Bergpartei, die "ÜberPartei"6240.0000New
NO! Idea2900.0000New
Independents and voter groups77,3060.18000
Valid votes43,726,85698.6843,625,04298.45
Invalid/blank votes583,0691.32684,8831.55
Total votes44,309,925100.0044,309,925100.00
Registered voters/turnout61,946,90071.5361,946,90071.53
Source: Bundeswahlleiter

Results by state

Below are second votes (Zweitstimme), or votes for party list, by state.[30]

 Baden-Württemberg 45.7 20.6 4.8 11.0 6.2 5.2 6.5
 Bavaria 49.3 20.0 3.8 8.4 5.1 4.2 9.2
 Berlin 28.5 24.6 18.5 12.3 3.6 4.9 7.6
 Brandenburg 34.8 23.1 22.4 4.7 2.5 6.0 6.5
 Bremen 29.3 35.7 10.1 12.1 3.4 3.7 5.7
 Hamburg 32.2 32.4 8.8 12.6 4.8 4.1 5.1
 Hesse 39.2 28.8 6.0 9.9 5.6 5.6 4.9
 Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 42.5 17.8 21.5 4.3 2.2 5.6 6.1
 Lower Saxony 41.1 33.1 5.0 8.8 4.2 3.7 4.1
 North Rhine-Westphalia 39.8 31.9 6.1 8.0 5.2 3.9 5.1
 Rhineland-Palatinate 43.3 27.5 5.4 7.6 5.5 4.8 5.9
 Saarland 37.8 31.0 10.0 5.7 3.8 5.2 6.5
 Saxony 42.6 14.6 20.0 4.9 3.1 6.8 8.0
 Saxony-Anhalt 41.2 18.2 23.9 4.0 2.6 4.2 5.9
 Schleswig-Holstein 39.2 31.6 5.2 9.4 5.6 4.6 4.4
 Thuringia 38.8 16.1 23.4 4.9 2.6 6.2 8.0

Constituency seats

State Total
Seats won
CDU SPD CSU Linke Grüne
Baden-Württemberg 38 38
Bavaria 45 45
Berlin 12 5 2 4 1
Brandenburg 10 9 1
Bremen 2 2
Hamburg 6 1 5
Hesse 22 17 5
Lower Saxony 30 17 13
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 6 6
North Rhine-Westphalia 64 37 27
Rhineland-Palatinate 15 14 1
Saarland 4 4
Saxony 16 16
Saxony-Anhalt 9 9
Schleswig-Holstein 11 9 2
Thuringia 9 9
Total 299 191 58 45 4 1

List seats

State Total
Seats won
SPD CDU Grüne Linke CSU
Baden-Württemberg 40 20 5 10 5
Bavaria 46 22 9 4 11
Berlin 15 6 4 3 2
Brandenburg 10 4 1 5
Bremen 4 2 1 1
Hamburg 7 4 2 1
Hesse 23 11 4 5 3
Lower Saxony 36 12 14 6 4
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 7 3 1 3
North Rhine-Westphalia 74 25 26 13 10
Rhineland-Palatinate 16 9 2 3 2
Saarland 5 3 1 1
Saxony 17 6 1 2 8
Saxony-Anhalt 10 4 1 5
Schleswig-Holstein 13 7 2 3 1
Thuringia 9 3 1 5
Total 332 135 64 62 60 11


Incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel said: "It was a strong vote to take responsibility in Germany, but also in Europe and the world."[31] Peer Steinbrück announced his withdrawal from top politics and his intention to focus on his ordinary tasks as a member of parliament.[32]

Government formation

As in the red-baiting and Red Scare campaign ("red socks") during the 1994 German federal election, Merkel scared off that the alternative was a left-wing red–red–green coalition government, since the FDP lost all its seats.[33] Many SPD insiders did not want to work with The Left. One day after the election, Merkel announced that she had already spoken with the SPD but would not rule out other possibilities.[34] An opinion poll conducted shortly after the election showed that 65% of SPD members were opposed to entering a Merkel-led grand coalition;[35] however, the SPD executive voted to enter coalition talks with the proviso that they would seek a vote from their membership before making a final agreement on entering a coalition.[36] The Greens were open to coalition talks with the CDU/CSU,[37] but CSU leaders said they opposed a coalition with the Greens.[38] The Greens announced they would not consider going into coalition with the Left.[39]

Formal talks began in the first week of October when Merkel met SPD leaders on 4 October. She said: "Europe is watching us, the world is watching us. We have the common responsibility to build a stable government." She also planned to hold talks with the Greens the following week.[40] After five weeks of negotiations that culminated in an all-night session 27–28 November, the CDU/CSU reached agreement with the SPD to form a new coalition government. Issues resolved in the talks included the planned introduction of a minimum hourly wage of €8.50 in 2015 and no new taxes. The deal depended on approval by the SPD rank and file, with a poll set for 6 December.[41][42][43] On 14 December, 76% of the SPD's members voted for the coalition to go ahead. The Third Merkel cabinet was sworn in on 17 December.[44] This grand coalition continued after the 2017 German federal election.[33]

See also

Further reading

  • Arzheimer, Kai. "The AfD: Finally a successful right-wing populist Eurosceptic party for Germany?." West European Politics 38.3 (2015): 535–556 online
  • Berbuir, Nicole, Marcel Lewandowsky, and Jasmin Siri. "The AfD and its sympathisers: Finally a right-wing populist movement in Germany?." German Politics 24.2 (2015): 154–178 online[dead link].
  • Faas, Thorsten. "The German federal election of 2013: Merkel’s triumph, the disappearance of the liberal party, and yet another grand coalition." West European Politics 38.1 (2015): 238–247.
  • Jungherr, Andreas, Harald Schoen, and Pascal Jürgens. "The mediation of politics through Twitter: An analysis of messages posted during the campaign for the German federal election 2013." Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication' 21.1 (2016): 50–68. online
  • Kayser, Mark Andreas, and Arndt Leininger. "A Predictive Test of Voters' Economic Benchmarking: The 2013 German Bundestag Election." German Politics 25.1 (2016): 106–130. online[dead link]
  • Nuernbergk, Christian, et al. "The German Election Campaign 2013." in The Routledge companion to social media and politics (2015) pp: 419+.
  • Selb, Peter, and Simon Munzert. "Forecasting the 2013 German Bundestag election using many polls and historical election results." German Politics 25.1 (2016): 73–83.
  • Wüst, Andreas M. "Immigration into Politics: Immigrant-origin candidates and their success in the 2013 Bundestag election." German Politics and Society 32.3 (2014): 1–15. online
  • Zeh, Reimar, and Christina Holtz-Bacha. "Internet, Social Medie Use and Political Participation in the 2013 Parliamentary Election in Germany." in Political Parties in the Digital Ages. The Impact of New Technologies in Politics (2015) pp: 43–57.


Wikimedia Commons has media related to 2013 Germany Bundestagswahl.
  1. ^ Gysi was the leading candidate on a list of 8 top candidates appointed by the party congress. The others were Sahra Wagenknecht, Jan van Aken, Dietmar Bartsch, Klaus Ernst, Nicole Gohlke, Diana Golze, and Caren Lay.


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External links

  • Official voting results from the Federal Returning Officer
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See also: Elections and referendums in Baden-Württemberg
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former: East Germany
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2013 elections in Germany
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