There are basically four rules to a German election.
1. You the citizen will vote for the Party (not so much as for the Chancellor candidate).
2. Whether you vote in Bavaria, or in Berlin....it doesn't matter. None of the votes amount to a state (16 of them) situation.
3. You have to win 5-percent as a party in the national election....to hold any seats in the Bundestag.
4. The leading winner of the election needs 50-percent of the seats to run the government. This requires you to take your 35-plus-percent typically and build a partnership with one opposition party (maybe two partners).
So, this leads to several interesting topics.
Can a party win with only 25-percent of the vote? Yes. It would require the second and thirty placing parties to probably get around 20-to-24 percent each, and the 4th and 5th party to get 5 to 10 percent each.
Can a party with some marginal character win via the party mechanism? It would be hard because they'd have to go for several debates and idiots would harm the parties chances out of these debates.
Do parties go up and down in each election? Yes, for the most part. The Green Party has reached a point where they can typically count on 7 to 9 percent of the national vote. It rarely goes above that or below that. The rest of the parties can lose a quarter of their votes, just based on the chancellor candidate or their platforms.
Does state-run TV matter in this case? You can count on state-run TV to run at least 200 hours of debate and forums in the six months leading up to an election. They can help or hinder a party.
Are there topics that come up every four years? Yes.....pension reform, tax reform, welfare reform, education reform, and infrastructure. Oddly, no one remembers that someone promised to once and for all....fix such-and-such problem, which oddly comes up four years later as a repeating problem.
How many registered Germans typically vote? Typically, 65 to 75 percent of the public will vote. You have to be eighteen years old to vote and a citizen. The SPD in 2017 will have a platform to lower the voting age to 16....which will be discussed widely.
When partnerships occur....what's the end-result? The chancellor candidate will sit at a table and offer up positions on the platform, and cabinet positions. The more partnerships (you might have to have 3 parties).....the more problems you have in making people happy.
What's this CDU/CSU thing? Two parties....acting like two cousins....and they usually combine votes in their win. Bavaria is the CSU unit, and the remaining 15 states have the CDU unit. A difference between the two? Yes...the CSU is slightly more conservative than the CDU folks.
Can a party fire a member? Yes. You could have a minister who has gotten into serious trouble, and rather than the Chancellor getting involved.....the individual's party could call him in for a review, and his status within the party could be challenged.
Can a partner quit the partnership? Yes, this is very possible....but unlikely. Typically, it'd mean another election.
If you win the election as a party, and can't form a partnership within a month? They typically give the winner plenty of time, but if you can't form a partnership.....then the number two party gets the nod and a chance to form a partnership. If they fail.....you'd go by the rules and have another election.
Aren't there lots of parties? Well.....typically forty-odd parties exist. If you go by past elections, around 34 of them will amount to 10-percent of the national vote, and that means that they don't count in the end. Once you cross the 5-percent point, it matters. So, more than a million votes will usually be wasted.
Aren't there non-serious parties in the running? At various times, parties out of thin air have existed, and been a joke. Right now.....Die Partei exists as a joke party. Die Partei got 39,000 votes in the last election. The oddest party in existence right now? The Violent Party (something to do with spiritual awareness, but it's best not to ask unless you are drinking or smoking something strong).
Are there partnerships that will never occur? The CDU used to say it'd be impossible to partner with the Greens. In Hessen state politics, they managed a partnership and will agree that some elements of the Green Party are workable. The SPD has members who say it's impossible to work with the Linke Party, but two months ago announced that they will hopefully work up a relationship this time (2017). Right now....most parties consider the AfD to be impossible to work a relationship, however if they get 20-percent of the vote....it'll be hard to avoid partnerships with them.