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BACKGROUND How is the German chancellor elected?

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Berlin (dpa) - During German election campaigns, each party puts up posters with their candidate for chancellor. But although voters can place their cross next to their preferred choice, they do not directly elect their head of government.

The voters‘ job is to elect the parliamentarians, who then, according to the constitution, decide who the chancellor will be. The vote takes place without a debate and secretly in polling booths.

It is the job of the president to put forward a candidate for the chancellorship to the lower house, the Bundestag.

In theory, the president has a free choice, but in reality he (they have only been men so far) has always chosen the leader of the largest party in the Bundestag, in this case Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

The Bundestag has always followed the president‘s suggestion.

Should Merkel achieve the so-called "chancellor majority" - that is, an absolute majority of the votes in the 709-seat Bundestag - then President Frank-Walter Steinmeier must name her the next chancellor.

If an absolute majority is not achieved on the first vote, then the Bundestag votes again until one is achieved.

If this does not happen, a more complicated procedure kicks in to create a minority government or call fresh elections.

To date, the Bundestag has always elected a new chancellor in the first round of voting.


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