Eli5: Why does the German Bundestag keep growing in size?


The German Bundestag has a minimum of 598 members, yet over the years (and legislative periods), the Bundestag has grown in size. It currently has 736 members. I know about “kumulieren” and “panaschieren”, and I know about the Überhangmandate (overhang- and equalisation mandates). However, how hard can it be to just always use the 598 as a basis and prevent the Bundestag from bloating up? Why does it increase in size in every legislative period?

In: 40

Uff, i think it just comes down to the überhängmandate. Ist because of the complicated combination of ratio-election and person-election.

Am do think that the system of Übergangs und Ausgleichsmandate was created for a few big parties. Because we no have more smaller parties we need to equilateral more.

I think the more nteresting fact is, that is crazy hard to change the system. The Ampel did it this year, but this could mean that the CSU and Linke are not in the Bundestag anymore.

The default size of the Bundestag up until now was 598.

This is because there are 299 voting districts and the parliament is twice the size of the number of districts.

The number of districts has been the same since 2002.

The way it used to work in the past was that each of the 299 districts elects a representative and whichever candidate in that district wins the most votes goes to the Bundestag.

This gives you 299 people voted by their districts in a simple first past the post system.

That is where it would stop in some countries.

However the system used in Germany wants to have proportional representations of their voters.

If for example 20% of the voters vote for a party everywhere, but don’t win a majority in any district they would be ignored.

This is why in Germany in addition to voting for who gets to represent their district, people also have a second vote where they vote for a party.

This second vote is used to determine the makeup o the parliament.

If 20% of the voters vote for a party they get 20% of the seats in parliament (this is oversimplified, but you get the general idea.)

So what about the 299 people already there?

They get subtracted from the seats the party gets via the second vote.

if a party wins the election in 50 districts and get enough of the second vote that they should have 120 seats in parliament, the 50 they already have get subtracted from 120 they should get leaving them with 70 more seats to put people into.

You might already see the big problem with that sort of system.

What happens when a party gets more seats by winning districts than they should have gotten via the proportional vote?

What if they win 120 districts, but by the prortional vote should only have gotten 100 seats?

In that case the size of the parliament gets increased until it fits.

All the other parties get more seats until the percentage of seats the party has fits the percentage of seats they should have gotten.

This can lead to some very large parliaments.

Eventually people realized that this was an issue and a new rule was created that will first get used in the next election.

Now not everyone who wins their district election is guaranteed a seat. If their party should have fewer seats some people might lose their seat despite having won the election in the district. If someone wins without being a member of a party their seat get subtracted from the seats that get distributed proportionally.

There will be a hard limit of 630 seats.