Kumulieren and Panaschieren

Ballot box - ©iStockphoto.com/jgroupVoting in Germany used to be easy.  As every German student knows, you have two votes – one for a candidate and one for a political party.

At least, that makes it easy for the electorate, because they can vote for someone they like, but still express a preference for a different party to have a majority in parliament.

For those working out the make of the parliament, there is a highly complex formula that determines how many seats each party gets, and depends on the number of direct mandates that individual candidates achieve, leading to the infamous Überhangmandate, which are worth a post all by themselves one day.

Until a few years ago, when some parts of Germany – Hessen included – introduced something call “Kumulieren und Panaschieren”. [Read more…]

Why I can’t vote next week

With the General Election in the UK only a week away, you may be forgiven for asking how someone who does not live in the country is able to vote.  The answer is that, like me, they probably are not able to.

Ballot boxTo vote in the UK your name has to be on the electoral roll, and to be on that you have to fulfil certain conditions.  One of these used to be an address in the UK and the normal method of registration is still via a form that is delivered to all households between September and November each year.

But even if you registered on a UK address and then spent most of your time out of the country there was a distinct downside to being on the electoral role: jury service.  Since the members of a court jury are selected at random from the electoral roll, being on it you run the risk of being summoned for jury service and having to travel back to the UK at short notice – something a German employer may not understand.

Now, however, times have started to change and much like other countries UK citizens are being allowed to vote even if they live overseas – at least in the General Election.

To do so, you need to register as a voter and have your registration counter-signed by another British citizen living abroad.  You will also need to chose between a proxy or postal vote – and apply for these far enough in advance of the election (not easy with this election being called so close to the actual voting day).

And yet these new rules will not help me, as there is one important limit – you must not have lived outside the UK for more than 15 years – exactly the amount of time that I have now lived in Germany.

So although I will following the results of the General Election next week and parts of the campaign have even made the news in Germany, I shall not be able to vote.

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