For an American watching over the German election.....there are some basic observations that come up.
First, while most Americans never realize this....Germans have elections on Sunday, period. No exceptions. What you have is a large segment of society who is off from work, and without any excuses to vote. More people participate, and I suspect more people are satisfied in the end.
Second, the CDU rode to a 42-percent win. Fairly high when compared against statistics of the past thirty years.
Third, the FDP (the normal partner of the CDU) picked up 4.9 percent. To be in the Bundestag by their rules.....you need five percent. Missing that one-tenth of one percent....is a big deal. Where did their vote go? This anti-Euro Party slugged away and got almost 4.5 percent of the vote. It's not clear yet, but I'm guessing that at least half of the anti-Euro Party vote came from previous FDP-voters.
Fourth, every single polling station in Germany is shut down by 6PM, period. The TV journalists? By 6:01PM, they had their preliminary win-numbers, and forecasted the numbers for the vote. It was kinda shocking as votes continued to be counted for two or three hours, and the original numbers didn't differ more than half-a-percentage point. They were absolutely right on the numbers.
Fifth, it ought to be noted that absentee ballots in Germany work mostly like the system in the US. If you are out of the country, or in some hospital.....you can ask for a ballot weeks ahead of time, and they will provide it.
Sixth, voter ID? Well....it's a curious thing. Weeks before an election, because you are registered.....you get a note in the mail explaining where the poll station is, and to bring this sheet. The sheet acts as an ID. The polling station can accept that one sheet alone.....or ask for some ID like a license or passport.
Seventh, as much talk as the Pirate Party had in the last month.....they just couldn't get more than two-to-three percent of the national vote. Dead from this point on? I doubt it. They will stick around for a couple of years, and maybe even survive for the 2017 election. The anti-Euro Party? Someone is going to eventually realize that they weren't viable and really just a minus-feature of German politics.....hurting the FDP mostly. I don't see the anti-Euro Party around in 2017.
Eighth......Somewhere around eight networks carried the election coverage yesterday....most with state-run TV. Some were carrying an hour here, then some documentary, and then fresh new numbers again. If you wanted some decent alternative to the election.....you would have been better off to read a book or play cards with the neighbors.
Ninth.....the Greens are sitting there with a brand-name problem. They've had several of their programs taken by the CDU, and likely have issues connecting with the normal crowd that vote Green. You could actually be an independent.....thinking that the CDU is progressive over nuclear energy, alternate power, and family policy. To regain any platform issues.....the Greens need to huddle up and think boldly over the next four years. Some radical ideas need to be discussed and presented.
Tenth and final. The difference between US and German politics? An American would view this situation, and say that cable news and internet platforms have hurt American politics more than helping. An American would also say that corruption in politics has crept into the US system, and is a major contributor to party policy. Toss in economic issues that continually come up, a fierce debate over health care that has not yet ended, and a fair segment of political figures who aren't capable of agreement, and you have a chaotic mess that folks just accept. Neither system is perfect, but at least on the day after the election....most folks can walk away and feel OK.
A final note, and it's fairly obvious. When you take a bill up as a national party in Germany....propose it....and put the party apparatus support around it.....it's passed. There is no Senate to deal with, and no President to veto it. The national party coalition concept.....works mighty fine. The German Supreme Court could step in and say it's a bad law, but that's the only hook to the procedure. Yeah, an American notices this, and would readily agree.....this system might have benefits.