germany winner

Germany 101: German Federal Elections

On September 24th 61.5 million German voters will decide on the central decision in their democracy: who should represent them in Parliament and eventually govern the country? Elections to the German Bundestag (like our House of Representatives) are held about every four years, with the last election having been held in fall of 2013.

The Basics

In grade school, most Germans are taught about the five principles in the Basic Law which stipulate that the members of the Bundestag be elected in “general, direct, free, equal and secret elections”. “General” means that all German citizens are able to vote once they have reached the age of 18. The elections are “direct” because citizens vote for their representatives directly without the mediation of delegates to an electoral college. “Free” means that no pressure of any kind may be exerted on voters. “Equal” means that each vote cast carries the same weight with respect to the composition of the Bundestag. “Secret” means that each individual must be able to vote without others learning which party or candidate he or she has chosen to support.

Where Do You Vote?

Germans have the options of voting at polling stations for example in community centers or schools, or sending in their vote by mail.

So. Many. Parties.

Germany has a lot more political parties than the United States. This is due to the fact that the German electoral system uses a proportional system, which means that all parties get a share of the available seats that reflect their share of the popular vote. However, not to have too many political factions which would make the decision making process nearly impossible – and Parties can get pretty specific as to what they stand for – Germany implemented the “five per cent clause” which means a party needs at least five percent of the votes cast to be represented in the Bundestag.

According to the German Research Institute the following parties are likely to be represented in the next German Bundestag, as they are expected to satisfy the five per cent clause:

  • CDU/CSU (the Union parties): a political alliance of the two parties representing conservative Christian-democratic policies, political home of the current Chancellor Angela Merkel and part of the governing “grand coalition”
  • SPD: the center-left social democratic party promoting “socially just” policies, the other member of the currently governing “grand coalition”
  • Die Linke: “the left” party – a democratic socialist and left-wing populist party
  • BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN: the green party which traditionally focuses on topics such as environmental protection
  • FDP: the “free democratic” party - a (classical) liberal political party
  • AfD: a right-wing populist and Eurosceptic party newly founded in 2013

First and Second Vote

Voters actually have two decisions to make when they go to their polling booth.  This part can get tricky.

The first vote is for the representative of your district. There are 299 electoral districts in Germany and the winner of each district gets a seat in the Bundestag.

The second vote is debatably the more important vote, which is cast not for a person but for a party. The number of seats a party gets in the Bundestag is based on what proportion they get of the second votes. Since the first votes for district representatives take up 299 seats of the Bundestag, the remaining 299 seats are filled up by representatives of each party until each party is proportionally represented.

And now it’s going to get really complicated (also for Germans, believe it or not): In case a party gets more directly elected candidates by the first votes than proportional seats by the second votes, these candidates nonetheless remain part of the new Bundestag. This is called an “Überhangmandat”. The other parties then get seats added proportionally which makes the Bundestag even bigger. The last four years, because of this phenomenon there were in total 631 Members of the German Bundestag instead of the legally foreseen 598.

Coalitions

“Coalition” is not a word used in American politics. Coalitions are alliances formed by different parties in the Bundestag to end up with a group that makes up more than 50% of the seats. Traditionally the party with the most votes tries to form a coalition first. Typically coalitions have been comprised by two parties in the past, but in the future coalitions of three or more parties could be a reality. Why do this? Due to the voting system which is a proportional and not a majority one, this is in most cases the only way to create a majority in the Bundestag which is necessary to pass laws. The coalition parties tend to negotiate a coalition agreement at the start of their cooperation which lays out their policy goals for the coming legislative period. Though the majority party within the coalition typically has more sway in what stance the coalition will take on certain issues – such as who the Chancellor will be – the smaller party benefits from the coalition by typically receiving several Minister positions (think Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, etc.) which are filled with members of their party. They might also enforce some stances on their core political issues as long as they can get the “bigger” coalition partner to agree in the negotiations.

Wrap Up

  • German elections are general, direct, free, equal, and secret
  • Germans vote in person or via mail
  • There are a bunch of parties to choose from representing the full political spectrum from far left to far right
  • Two votes: a first vote for a specific candidate representing your district and a second vote for your party determining the number of seats per party
  • A Coalition is formed after all votes are in to create a group that holds more than 50% of the Bundestag seats

Got more questions? Shoot them to us in the comments below!

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Bastian: (to the reporter) You have to speak in Bavarian.

Reporter: No, I don’t speak Bavarian but, you know, congratulations for this world cup.

(to Muller) You were…This was supposed to…You were the top striker of the whole world championship. How does this make you feel?

Muller: Das interessiert mich nicht der Scheißdreck. Weltmeister san ma. Den Pott hamm’ ma. Den Scheiß mit dem Goldenen Schuh kannst du hinter die Ohren schmieren. 

(trans: I don’t give a shit about this. We are the champions. We won the trophy. You can rub that golden boot shit behind your ears) *then leaves*

Reporter: Can you translate what [Thomas] said?

Bastian: He said you’re beautiful and he’s happy to win the tittle.

LOOOOOOOOOL

Teen Hetalia - Cranky or?

The contest comic everyone! We get to see a new chapter of the lives of the little kids, the dreaded teen years~

Germany & Italy © Himaruya Hidekaz

Contest winners who got themselves or OC appear in the comic:  @scarytalescometrue , @ask-jersey-isle & @poppoforpresident

10

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biggest goat of all time, capi of our hearts, retiring even though he still looks 12, greatest leg end of fc bayern münchen his one true club, champion of europe, champion of the world, champion of germany, winner of the treble, goat, never got sent off, husband to his wife, father to his son, father to his unborn daughter, 1cm smaller than it says on his ID

GOAT of all time
11 times The Simpsons predicted the future with eerie precision

Dismiss ‘The Simpsons’ simply as a cartoon for kids at your peril. In the 25+ years it’s been running, Matt Groening’s hit animated sitcom has delivered countless storylines over 27 seasons and one movie, and nestled among the anarchic tales of America’s premiere nuclear family have been some weirdly prescient predictions about the near future.

Here’s the 10 most chillingly accurate predictions made by ‘The Simpsons’.

President Trump - Predicted in 2000

Episode: S11 E17 ‘Bart To The Future’

Donald Trump has just been elected as the next President of the United States, but his ambition was foreseen by this classic ‘Simpsons’ episode where Bart was shown his future by a Native American.

Lisa has become President and, in a scene where she addresses her inner circle, she says: “We’ve inherited quite the budget crunch from President Trump.” Spooky.

The Higgs Boson Particle – Predicted in 1998

Episode: S10 E2 ‘The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace’

Simon Singh, the author of a book titled ‘The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets’, claims Homer Simpson predicted the mass of the Higgs Boson particle 14 years before it was actually figured out for real by scientists at the Large Hadron Collider.

Singh says this equation, written by Homer on a blackboard, is eerily accurate. “If you work it out, you get the mass of a Higgs boson that’s only a bit larger than the nano-mass of a Higgs boson actually is.”

Greece’s economic collapse – Predicted in 2012

Episode: S23 E10 ‘Politically Inept, with Homer Simpson’

Three years before this year’s government debt meltdown in Greece that saw it become the first country to default on an IMF loan repayment, a throwaway gag on this 2012 episode predicted how outlandish the situation would become.

A ticker on a rolling news station that Homer appears on reads “Europe puts Greece on eBay”. We wonder if the Greeks have considered this option during their darkest hours.

Ebola outbreak – Predicted in 1997

Episode: S9 E3 ‘Lisa’s Sax’

A crackpot viral video that did the rounds in 2014 claims ‘The Simpsons’ predicted the recent American Ebola outbreak. The episode saw Marge offering to read Bart a book titled “Curious George and The Ebola Virus”, which the YouTube creator Thecontroversy7 says proves that the makers of the show knew about the future outbreak and are, of course, members of the illuminati.

It was almost convincing before the illuminati stuff wasn’t it?

Siegfried and Roy tiger attack  - Predicted in 1993

Episode: S5 E10 ‘$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)’

The stage career of flamboyant German magic duo Siegfried & Roy was brought to a shocking end in 2003 when Roy Horn was mauled by one of their trademark white tigers while performing live on stage in Las Vegas.

Ten years earlier, in a ‘Simpsons’ episode that sees Springfield briefly legalise gambling, a flamboyant Germanic magic duo with a penchant for albino big cats called Gunter and Ernst make an appearance at Mr Burns’ casino. Their performance is cut short when their mauled by their trademark white tigers. Makes you paws for thought doesn’t it?

The NSA scandal – Predicted in 2007

Episode: ‘The Simpsons Movie’

Six years before Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the true extent of the NSA’s spying on American citizens, ‘The Simpsons Movie’ featured an extended gag about the extensive surveillance network of the National Security Agency.

A chance remark from Marge chastising Lisa for worrying about spies while on the run sparks an alarm in a NSA building. The building contains thousands of workers listening to private conversations across the country and Marge’s loose lips lead to the family’s arrest.

Horse meat scandal – Predicted in 1994

Episode: S5 E19 ‘Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song’

A full 19 years before it was revealed that some beef sold in Europe had been contaminated with horse meat, ‘The Simpsons’ made a joke about Lunchlady Doris cooking with “assorted horse parks – now with more testicles”.

On a side note, Lunchlady Doris is now Lunchlady Dora, a name change facilitated when the character’s original voice actor Doris Grau died in 1995.

Faulty voting machines – Predicted in 2008

Episode: S20 E4 ‘Treehouse of Horror XIX’

In the 2008 Halloween special, Homer tries to vote for Barack Obama at an electronic voting both, but the machine malfunctions casting a vote for his rival John McCain instead.

Just 4 years later, a Pennsylvania voting machine was taken out of service when it was filmed casting votes intended for Obama in favour of his real-life rival Mitt Romney.

FIFA Scandal - Predicted in 2014

Episode: S25 E16 ‘You Don’t Have to Live Like a Referee’

A year before the football world was turned upside when a series of high-ranking FIFA officials were arrested by the FBI on charges of corruption, a similar thing played out in this 2014 episode of ‘The Simpsons’.

Homer is visited by the executive vice president of the “world football federation” who wants him to be a referee in the upcoming World Cup. He’s promptly arrested by American authorities for corruption and carted off. The episode even predicted Germany as the winners of that year’s tournament.

9/11 – Predicted in 1997

Episode: S9 E1 ‘The City of New York vs Homer Simpsons’

You’re deep into the conspiracy theory rabbit hole if you think this one is even vaguely feasible, but here we go anyway.

A YouTube video from user “truthwillfindyoubru” points to a moment in the 1997 series 9 opener that sees Lisa holding up a bus coupon ad that promises New York tickets for $9. The placement of the price, next to the Big Apple’s skyline including the World Trade Center, makes the ad read “New York 9 11” which they suggest means the show’s makers had “foreknowledge” of the attacks.

2016 Nobel prize winner

Episode: S22 E1 ‘Elementary School Musical’

In the 2010 season opener Lisa, Millhouse, and a bunch of her nerdy friends have stayed up late to hear the winners of the Nobel prize, in which Krusty wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

So far, so Simpsons, but then we get a look at Martin’s betting pool card and we see Millhouse had predicted an Economics prize for Bengt R. Holmstrom, who actually went on to win in earlier this year. MIT’s Holmstrom was joint winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Economics with Oliver Hart for their work on “contact theory”. No, us neither.

Image credits: 20th Century Fox

THE LAST TEN WINNERS OF THE CRYSTAL GLOBE!

2005–06 Czech Republic Jakub Janda

2006–07 Poland Adam Małysz

2007–08 Austria Thomas Morgenstern

2008–09 Austria Gregor Schlierenzauer

2009–10 Switzerland Simon Ammann

2010–11 Austria Thomas Morgenstern

2011–12 Norway Anders Bardal

2012–13 Austria Gregor Schlierenzauer

2013–14 Poland Kamil Stoch

2014–15 Germany Severin Freund