German Bundestag

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The plenary of the German Bundestag.

The German Bundestag (commonly referred to as Bundestag) is the legislature of Germany. It meets in Berlin, in the Reichstag building, which was specially rebuilt ready for the Bundestag to move from Bonn.

The Bundestag has at least 598 members. Every 4 years the German people vote. At the moment there are 709 members. Next elections are in 2021.

A party gets seats when it gets at least 5% of the votes. Every voter has two votes, one for a person and one for a party. 299 members each represent a constituency, just as in the British House of Commons or the US House of Representatives. The other half are elected from a party list in each Land. The total number of seats a party gets depends on the number of the second "party votes" it gets.

But if a party wins more constituency seats than its share of the party votes, then it keeps those extra seats. These extra seats, or extra mandates, are the reason the Bundestag sometimes has more than 598 members. If a party gets extra mandates, the other parties get some extra seats too to make sure every party gets exactly its share of party seats. This system of giving extra mandates was changed in 2013. Before 2013, if a party won extra mandates, then it got to put more members in the Bundestag, which gave the party more influence over the Bundestag than it won in the elections.

The Bundestag president is named Wolfgang Schäuble. He oversees the sessions of the body.

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