Who would you vote for in the German elections, which take place this Sunday? In the U.S. comparatively, it’s relatively easy – usually you either vote Democratic or Republican. In Germany, you can vote for the CDU, the Christian Democrats represented by chancellor Angela Merkel, the SPD, the Social Democrats represented by Frank Walter Steinmeier, the Green Party, the FDP, the Liberal Party, or Die Linke, the leftists.
Unlike in the United States, you can’t vote for Merkel OR Steinmeier themselves. By voting for a party, you determine which parties win the most seats in the German parliament, and they vote for the chancellor. Perhaps in that way it even resembles the electoral college which Germans find exceptionally hard to understand. Germans will have two votes on Sunday, one for a party, and one direct vote for a member of parliament representing their district, who plays the role similar to Senators or Representatives in the United States.
Even if you don’t understand German, taking a look at the campaign websites can be insightful. The CDU is banking on the persona of Merkel, the SPD has a video featuring citizens from all walks of life.
To help you decide, there’s the Wahl-Omat also available in English which recommends parties based on a series of questions.
By November 4 last year, Americans had seen seen over twenty Republican and Democratic televised debates, in addition to the three actual presidential debates. In Germany, the phenomenon of televised debates is still relatively new. This year there was one debate between Steinmeier and Merkel. If you would like to practice your German, you check out the video here. For the most part, the press criticized the debate as dull. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung noted that “14 million Germans could have, without bad conscience, watched The Simpsons at the same time”. Still, among the early interesting and particularly German moments in the debate, Steimeier is asked whether he and Merkel, having worked together the past 4 years, now address each other using the informal “du” instead of “sie”. Answer? They still address each other formally.
Where can you find coverage of the German election on Sunday? Results should be coming in starting at 12 p.m. Eastern Time: