With the end of the Game of Thrones season, and before winter comes, we have the next best political spectacle of Central Europe: The Game of 630 Thrones! Not as catchy or entertaining as the HBO religion, I mean, series, but the election of the German Parliament has a lot more impact on our daily lives, and on our beloved Leipzig.
Do you live in the 152 or 153?
Leipzig’s two congressional districts, or Wahlkreise, are the federal districts 152 and 153. With two congressional districts, our city elects two congressmen or congresswomen. There are currently more than two members of parliament from Leipzig, but that is because of the overly complicated federal election system.
But let’s stick to Leipzig’s two congressional districts: 152, or Leipzig 1, covers most of the northwest, north, and east of the city, as shown below. District 153, or Leipzig 2, covers the center, and all of the city’s south. This is why you see different candidates of the same political party in the political banners up around the city; each party proposes a candidate for each district.
Due to the federal election requirement that each party have at least 5 percent of the popular vote to get any seats in parliament, I will present below the candidates of the parties with a shot at crossing that threshold.
Here are the candidates for Leipzig 1 and 2 and their chances of making it into Parliament:
The incumbent for Leipzig’s first congressional district is Bettina Kudla from the Christian Democrats (CDU). She won in the last election, in 2013, with 40 percent of the vote (districts are won in first-past-the-post voting). However, she is stepping down, and Jens Lehmann (not Germany’s 2006 goalkeeper) is the candidate for the CDU in this district.
In Leipzig 2, the incumbent is Thomas Feist of the CDU, who won in 2013 with 34 percent. He is standing for reelection (there are no term limits in Germany).
Both CDU candidates have a good chance of winning, since the party is polling first in Saxony. However, the race can be close for Mr. Feist.
Die Linke, the leftist (former SED) party, came in a distant second in the last election – with 23 percent for Leipzig 1. It is now running with a new candidate, Franziska Riekewald.
In Leipzig 2, this party also came second, though with a not so distant 25 percent. It is trying a new candidate as well, with Sören Pellmann.
Die Linke is polling in third place in Saxony, being displaced by the far right AfD as the state’s second largest political party.
The AfD did not make the 5 percent threshold last election. But polling at around 8 percent nationally and 18 percent in Saxony, it looks like they will gain seats and put the CDU and Die Linke – the former political powerhouses of Saxony – into trouble. Their candidates are Christoph Neumann (Leipzig 1) and Siegbert Droese (Leipzig 2).
The SPD, the social democrats, came at a close third, with 22 percent in Leipzig 1 back in 2013.
Leipzig, by the way, is the only city in Saxony where this party has somewhat strong support. Their candidate is once more Daniela Kolbe.
Kolbe is currently a member of Parliament due to being at the top of the SPD’s list for the second vote. Germans vote for a direct candidate in the congressional district, with a second vote for party lists (it is complicated, sorry). For Leipzig 2, the SPD’s candidate is Jens Katzek. He did not run in 2013.
Germany’s second largest party has little chances in Leipzig, and nationally, of getting first place. In Saxony it is currently polling at 11 percent.
In fifth and sixth place we find the FDP and Die Grüne.
The liberal party, the FDP, didn’t make the 5 percent threshold last election, but they are set to come back with about 8 percent of the votes nationally. The greens are fighting to make it past the 5 percent death zone. They are polling nationally at 7 percent. In Saxony and in Leipzig, both parties have zero chance of winning any of the two congressional districts.
If you are German, vote! If you are not German, make sure your German friends vote! If you are unsure what option to vote for, take the “wahl-o-mat” test (only in German), where your choices are matched to the party platforms. The federal election is on 24 September.