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Federal Electoral Law

as amended in the promulgations dated 23 July 1993

(Federal Law Gazette I, p. 1288, 1594)

last amended by article 2 the Law of 21 May 1999

(Federal Law Gazette I, p. 1023)

Section I

Electoral System

Article 1

Composition of the German Bundestag and Principles of Franchise

(1) The German Bundestag shall, subject to variations resulting from this Law, consist of 598 members. They shall be elected in a general, direct, free, equal and secret ballot by the Germans eligible to vote, in accordance with the principles of proportional representation combined with uninominal voting.

(2) Of the members, 299 shall be elected from nominations in the constituencies and the rest from Land nominations (Land lists).

Article 2

Division of the Electoral Area

(1) The electoral area shall be the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany.

(2) The division of the electoral area into constituencies shall be as shown in the Annex* to this Law.

(3) Each constituency shall be divided into polling districts for voting.

Article 3

Constituency Commission and Delimitation of Constituencies

(1) When diving the electoral area into constituencies, the following principles shall be observed:

1. The Länder boundaries shall be respected.

2. The number of constituencies in the individual Länder shall correspond to the population proportion as far as possible.

3. The population of a constituency should not deviate from the average population of the constituencies by more than 15 per cent in either direction; where the deviation is greater than 25 per cent, the boundaries shall be redrawn.

4. Each constituency should form a coherent area.

5. Where possible, the boundaries of the communes, districs an urban districts should be respected.

In the determination of population figures, aliens (§ 1, para 2 of the Aliens Law) shall not be taken into account.

(2) The Federal President shall appoint a permanent Constituency Commission. It shall consist of the President of the Federal Statistical Office, a judge from the Federal Administrative Court, and five other members.

(3) The Constituency Commission has the task of reporting changes in the population figures in the electoral area and to show whether and which changes in the division of the electoral area into constituencies it considers necessary. In ist report, it may also propose changes for other reasons. When making is proposals concerning the division of the electoral area into constituencies, it shall observe the principles specified in paragraph 1.

(4) The report of the Constituency Commission must be submitted to the Federal Ministry of the Interior within fifteen months of the beginning of the legislative term of the Bundestag. The Federal Ministry of the Interior shall forward it to the Bundestag immediately and publish it in the Federal Bulletin. On the request of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Constituency Commission must submit a supplementary report; in this case, sentence 2 shall apply as appropriate.

(5) Whenever Land boundaries are altered in accordance with the statutory provisions governing the procedure for other changes in the territory of the Laender pursuant to Article 29 (7) of the Basic Law, the boundaries of the constituencies affected shall also be altered correspondingly. Whenever two or more constituencies are affected in the incorporating Land or an enclave of a Land is formed, the constituency to which the new part of the Land belongs shall depend on the constituency to which the commune, the communal district, or the non-communal area to which it has been added belongs. Changes in Land boundaries which are made after the thirty-second month after the beginning of the legislative term shall not affect the division into constituencies until the following legislative term.

Article 4

Votes

Each voter shall have two votes, a first vote for electing a member of parliament for the constituency and a second vote for electing a Land list.

Article 5

Election in the Constituencies

Each constituency shall elect one member. The candidate obtaining the majority of the votes cast shall be considered elected. In the event of a tie, the election shall be decided by the District Returning Officer by drawing lots.

Article 6

Election by Land List

(1) For the distribution of seats to be occupied on the basis of Land lists, the second votes cast for each Land list shall be added together. The second votes of those voters who cast their first votes for a successful candidate in a constituency who was nominated in accordance with Article 20 (3) or by a party not permitted to submit a Land list in the Land in question shall be disregarded. The number of successful constituency candidates who are specified in sentence 2 or were nominated by parties which, in accordance with Paragraph (6) of the present Article, are not to be taken into consideration shall be deducted from the total number of members of parliament (Article 1 (1)).

(2) The remaining seats pursuant to Paragraph (1), sentence 3 shall be distributed among the Land lists on the basis of the second votes to be taken into account according to Paragraph (1), sentences 1 and 2 as follows: The total number of remaining seats shall be multiplied by the number of second votes cast for each Land list in the election area and the product divided by the total number of second votes cast for all the Land lists to be taken into account. Each Land list shall first receive one seat for each whole number falling to it. Any seats then remaining to be awarded shall be allocated to the Land lists in the order of the highest decimal fractions resulting from the calculation performed in accordance with sentence 2 of this Paragraph. In case of equal fractions, the assignment of the last seat shall be decided by the Federal Returning Officer by drawing lots.

(3) If a Land list upon which more than half of the total number of second votes of all the Land lists to be taken into account does not receive more than half of the seats available ac-cording to the distribution of seats described in Paragraph (2), it shall, notwithstanding Paragraph (2), sentences 4 and 5, be allocated an additional seat from the seats due to be allocated on the basis of fractions. Any seats then remaining shall be distributed according to Paragraph (2), sentences 4 and 5.

(4) The number of seats won by a party in the constituencies of a Land shall be deducted from the number of members of parliament thus established for each Land list. The remaining seats shall be occupied by candidates from the Land list in the order laid down in it. Candidates who have been elected in a constituency shall be disregarded in the Land list. If more seats fall to a Land list than there are candidates nominated in it, these seats shall re-main vacant.

(5) A party shall retain seats it has gained in the constituencies even if the number exceeds the number established in accordance with Paragraphs (2) and (3). In such an event, the total number of seats (Article 1 (1)) shall increase by the difference; there shall be no renewed calculation in accordance with Paragraphs (2) and (3) of this Article.

(6) Only parties that have obtained at least five per cent of the valid second votes cast in the electoral area or have won a seat in at least three constituencies shall be taken into consideration when the seats are distributed among the Land lists. Sentence 1 shall not apply to the lists submitted by parties representing national minorities.

Article 7

Combined Lists

(1) Land lists of the same party shall be considered combined unless a statement is is-sued to the effect that one or more Land lists concerned are to be excluded from the combined lists.

(2) Combined lists shall be considered a single list in relation to the other lists for the distribution of seats.

(3) The seats falling to a combined list shall be distributed among the Land lists concerned in accordance with Article 6 (2). Article 6 (4) and (5) shall apply as appropriate.

Section II

Electoral Bodies

Article 8

Organization of Electoral Bodies

(1) Electoral bodies shall be

the Federal Returning Officer and the Federal Electoral Committee for the electoral area, a Land Returning Officer and a Land Electoral Committee for each Land,

a District Returning Officer and a District Electoral Committee for each constituency,

an Electoral Officer and an Electoral Board for each polling district, and

at least one Electoral Officer and an Electoral Board for each constituency to establish the results of the postal ballot. The District Returning Officer shall determine how many postal ballot boards are necessary to establish the result of the postal ballot on the same day as the election.

(2) A Joint District Returning Officer may be appointed and a Joint Electoral Committee formed for several neighbouring constituencies; the Land Returning Officer shall issue the order.

(3) In order to establish the result of the postal ballot, Electoral Officers and Electoral Boards can be appointed for one or several communes or for each district in the constituency instead of for every constituency. The Land Government or the agency designated by it shall issue the order.

Article 9

Appointment of Electoral Bodies

(1) The Federal Returning Officer and his Deputy shall be appointed by the Federal Minis-try of the Interior; the Land Returning Officers, District Returning Officers and Electoral Officers and their Deputies shall be appointed by the Land Government or the agency designated by it.

(2) The Federal Electoral Committee shall be composed of the Federal Returning Officer as Chairman and eight qualified voters appointed by him as assessors. The other electoral committees shall be composed of the Returning Officer as Chairman and six qualified voters appointed by him as assessors. The Electoral Boards shall be composed of the Electoral Officer as Chairman, his Deputy and three to five other qualified voters appointed by the Electoral Officer as assessors; the Land Government or the agency designated by it may order the assessors of the Electoral Board to be appointed by the local authority of the commune and the assessors of the Electoral Board formed for the establishment of the result of the postal ballot by the District Returning Officer, in the event of an order pursuant to Article 3 (8), by the local authority or district authority alone or in concurrence with the Electoral Officer. Whenever possible, account shall be taken of the parties represented in the polling district when appointing assessors.

(3) No one may be a member of more than one electoral body. Candidates standing for election, spokespersons for nominations and deputy spokespersons may not be appointed members of an electoral body.

Article 10

Electoral Committees and Electoral Boards

(1) The Electoral Committees and Electoral Boards shall meet, confer and make their decisions in public session. Unless stipulated otherwise by this Law, decisions shall be taken by majority vote; in the case of a tie, the Chairman shall have the casting vote.

(2) The members of the electoral bodies, their deputies and the keeper of the minutes shall be bound to perform the duties of their offices impartially and to exercise discretion regarding information to which they gain access as a result of their official duties.

Article 11

Honorary Posts

(1) The assessors of the Electoral Committees and the members of the Electoral Boards shall perform their duties in an honorary capacity. Anyone eligible to vote shall be bound to accept this honorary post if it is offered to them. The honorary post may be refused only on substantial grounds.

(2) (No longer applicable)

(3) (No longer applicable)

Section III

Eligibility to Vote and to Stand for Election

Article 12

Eligibility to Vote

(1) All Germans as defined in Article 116 (1) of the Basic Law shall be eligible to vote, provided that, on the day of the election, they

1. have reached the age of 18 years,

2. have had a domicile or have otherwise been permanently resident in the Federal Republic of Germany for at least three months, and

3. are not disqualified from voting under Article 13 of the Federal Electoral Law.

(2) Provided the other conditions are fulfilled, Germans as defined in Article 116 (1) of the Basic Law shall also be eligible to vote if, on the day of election, they are

1. resident as civil servants, soldiers, and other salaried public employees outside the Federal Republic of Germany by order of their employer, and members of such persons' households,

2. resident in the territories of the other member states of the Council of Europe, provided that after 23 May 1949 and prior to their departure, they had a domicile or were otherwise permanently resident for an uninterrupted period of at least three months in the Federal Republic of Germany,

3. resident in other territories outside the Federal Republic of Germany, provided that prior to their departure, they had a domicile or were otherwise permanently resident for an uninterrupted period of at least three months in the Federal Republic of Germany, and that no more than 25 years have elapsed since their departure. The same applies as appropriate to seamen on vessels not flying the German flag, as well as the members of their households.

The period of three months specified in Paragraph (1), no. 2 shall not apply if a person eligible to vote under sentence 1 above returns to the Federal Republic of Germany. For the application of nos. 2 and 3, a previous domicile or residence in the area stipulated in Article 3 of the Unification Treaty must be taken into account.

(3) For the purposes of this Law, a domicile shall be any enclosed space which is used for dwelling or sleeping. Caravans and house-boats, however, shall only be considered domiciles if they are not moved at all or only occasionally.

(4) If persons eligible to vote do not have or have not had a domicile in the Federal Re-public of Germany, a domicile as defined in Paragraph (1), no. 2 or Paragraph (2), nos. 2 and 3 shall be:

1. for seamen and the members of their households, the ship occupied by them if the ship is eligible to fly the Federal Flag under the latest version of the Flag Law (in the version promulgated on 4 July 1990, Federal Law Gazette I, p. 1342)

2. for boatmen in inland navigation and the members of their households, the ship occupied by them if the ship is enrolled in a ship's register in the Federal Republic of Germany,

3. for persons serving a term of imprisonment imposed by a court of law as well as for other persons accommodated in an institution or respective institution.

(5) The day on which the domicile is occupied or the residence begins must be included in the calculation to determine the three-month period pursuant to Paragraph (1), no. 1 and Paragraph (2), nos. 2 and 3,

Article 13

Disqualification from Voting

A person shall be disqualified from voting if

1. he or she is not eligible to vote owing to a judicial decision,

2. a custodian has been appointed not only through a restraining order to attend to all his or her affairs; this also applies when the custodian's sphere of duties does not include the affairs set forth in Article 1896 (4) and Article 1905 of the Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch),

3. he or she is accommodated in a psychiatric hospital under an order pursuant to Article 63 of the Penal Code in conjunction with Article 20 of the Penal Code.

4. No longer applicable

Article 14

Exercise of the Right to Vote

(1) Only such persons as are entered in a voters' register or have a polling card may vote.

(2) Anyone entered in a voters' register may only vote in the polling district of the voters' register in which he or she is entered.

(3) Anyone possessing a polling card may vote in the constituency in which the polling card was issued a) by casting his or her vote in any polling district of this constituency, or b) by postal ballot.

(4) Each person eligible to vote may vote only once and must do so personally.

Article 15

Eligibility to Stand for Election

(1) A person shall be eligible to stand for election if, on election day, he or she

1. has been German as defined in Article 116 (1) of the Basic Law for at least one year, and

2. has reached the age of eighteen years.

(2) A person shall be ineligible to stand for election if he or she

1. is disqualified from voting under Article 13 of the Federal Electoral Law,

2. has been deprived by judicial decision of eligibility to hold public or political office, or

3. is a German as defined in Article 116 (1) of the Basic Law without possessing German citizenship and has attained this legal status by renouncing German citizenship under the Law of 22 February 1955 for the Regulation of Questions of Citizenship (Federal Law Gazette I, p. 65).

Section IV

Preparations for the Election

Article 16

Election Day

The Federal President shall determine the day of the general election (election day). The election day must be a Sunday or a statutory public holiday.

Article 17

Voters' Register and Polling Card

(1) The local authorities of the commune shall maintain a register of persons eligible to vote for each polling district. The voters' register shall be on public display on the working days between the twentieth and the sixteenth day before the election.

(2) A person eligible to vote who is prevented from casting his or her vote in the polling district in whose voters' register he or she is entered or who has not been entered in the voters' register for reasons beyond his control shall be issued a polling card on application.

Article 18

Right to Nominate Candidates, Notification of Participation

(1) Nominations of candidates may be submitted by parties and, in accordance with Article 20, by persons eligible to vote.

(2) Parties which have not been continuously represented by at least five representatives in the German Bundestag or in a Landtag (state parliament) since the last election on the basis of their own nominations may only submit nominations as parties if they have given notification of their intended participation in the election to the Federal Returning Officer in writing not later than the ninetieth day before the election and have been recognized as par-ties by the Federal Electoral Committee. Such notification must include the name under which the party intends to participate in the election. It must be signed personally and by hand by at least three members of the national executive committee, including the chairman or his deputy. If a party does not have a national executive committee, the executive commit-tee of the party's highest-level organization shall take the place of the national executive committee. The party's written statutes and written program as well as proof that the executive committee has been duly appointed in accordance with the statutes shall be enclosed with the notification.

(3) The Federal Returning Officer must examine the notification pursuant to Paragraph

(2) immediately upon receipt. If he finds faults in it, he shall immediately notify the executive committee and demand it to rectify the faults that can be corrected. After expiration of the submission period for notification, only faults in otherwise valid notifications may be rectified. A notification shall not be deemed valid if

1. the form or deadline prescribed in Paragraph (2) has not been observed,

2. the name of the party is not stated,

3. the valid signatures required under Paragraph (2) and the documents to be submitted with the notification are missing, unless such documents cannot be submitted on time due to circumstances beyond the party's control,

4. the members of the executive committee have not been adequately designated, so that their identities cannot be established.

Once the decision has been made on the recognition of an association as a party, no action may be taken to rectify faults. The party's executive committee may appeal to the Federal Electoral Committee against orders issued by the Federal Returning Officer in proceedings concerning the rectifying of faults.

(4) The Federal Electoral Committee shall confirm as binding for all electoral bodies not later than the seventy-second day before the election

1. which parties have been continuously represented in the German Bundestag or in a Landtag since the last election by at least five members nominated by the party itself,

2. which associations, having given notification of their participation pursuant to Paragraph (2), shall be recognized as parties for the election. A two-thirds majority is necessary to refuse an association recognition as a party for the election.

(5) A party may submit only one constituency nomination for each constituency and only one Land list for each Land.

Article 19

Submission of Nominations

Constituency nominations shall be submitted in writing to the District Returning Officer and Land lists to the Land Returning Officer not later than 6 p.m. on the sixty-sixth day before the election.

Article 20

Content and Form of Constituency Nominations

(1) A constituency nomination may only contain the name of one candidate. Each candidate may only be named in one constituency and there only in one nomination. A person may only be nominated as a candidate if he or she has given his or her written consent; such consent shall be irrevocable.

(2) Constituency nominations of parties must bear the personal and handwritten signatures of the members of the executive committee of the Land branch of the party or, where such Land branches do not exist, the personal and handwritten signatures of the members of the executive committee of the next lower regional branches (Article 7 (2) of the Law on Political Parties) in whose area the constituency lies. Constituency nominations of the parties specified in Article 18 (2) above must in addition bear the personal and handwritten signatures of at least 200 persons eligible to vote in the constituency; they must be eligible to vote at the time they sign the nomination and proof of this must be furnished when the nomination is submitted. The requirement to present 200 signatures shall not apply to constituency nominations of parties representing national minorities.

(3) Other constituency nominations must bear the personal and handwritten signatures of at least 200 persons eligible to vote from the constituency concerned. Paragraph (2), sentence 2, second half-sentence shall apply as appropriate.

(4) Constituency nominations of parties must contain the name of the party submitting them as well as any shortened form of its name it uses, while other constituency nominations must contain a distinctive code name.

Article 21

Nomination of Party Candidates

(1) A person may only be named as a candidate of a party in a constituency nomination if he or she has been elected for this purpose at a members' assembly convened to elect a constituency candidate or at a special or general delegates' assembly. A members' assembly convened to elect a constituency candidate shall be an assembly of members of the party who at the time of their meeting are eligible to vote in the German Bundestag election in their constituency. A special delegates' assembly shall be an assembly of the delegates elected by such an assembly of members from their own ranks. A general delegates' assembly shall be a general assembly appointed in accordance with the statutes of the party (Article 6 of the Law on Political Parties) by such an assembly of members from their own ranks in view of forthcoming elections.

(2) Where districts and urban districts comprise several constituencies, the candidates for those constituencies whose area does not intersect the boundary of the district or the urban district may be elected at a joint members' or delegates' assembly.

(3) The candidates and delegates for the delegates' assemblies shall be elected by secret ballot. Elections may take place no earlier than thirty-two months after the beginning of the legislative term of the German Bundestag, in the case of the delegates' assembly no earlier than twenty-three months; this shall not apply if the term ends prematurely.

(4) The executive committee of the Land branch or, where such Land branches do not exist, the executive committee of the next lower regional branch (Article 7 (2) of the Law on Political Parties) in whose area the constituency lies or another body provided for this purpose in the party's statutes may object to the decision of a members' or delegates' assembly. If such an objection is raised, the ballot shall be repeated. Its result shall be final.

(5) Further details regarding the election of delegates for the delegates' assembly, the convening and the quorum of the members' or delegates' assemblies as well as the procedure for the election of the candidate shall be set forth in the parties' statutes.

(6) A copy of the record of the election of the candidate, with details of where and when the assembly took place, the form of the invitation, the number of members present and the result of the ballot shall be submitted with the constituency nomination. In so doing, the chairperson of the assembly and two members present designated by it shall give the District Returning Officer an assurance in lieu of an oath to the effect that the election of the candidate was by secret ballot. The District Returning Officer shall be responsible for accept-ing such an assurance in lieu of an oath; he shall be considered an authority within the meaning of Article 156 of the Penal Code.

Article 22

Spokesperson

(1) A spokesperson and a deputy spokesperson shall be designated in every constituency nomination. If such a designation is not made, the first person to have signed shall be considered the spokesperson and the second person to have signed the deputy spokesperson.

(2) Unless otherwise specified in this Law, only the spokespersons and their deputies, each for themselves, shall be authorized to make and receive binding statements concerning the constituency nomination.

(3) Spokespersons and deputy spokespersons may be removed from office and replaced by others through a written statement issued by the majority of the signatories of the constituency nomination and addressed to the District Returning Officer.

Article 23

Withdrawal of Constituency Nominations

A constituency nomination may be withdrawn by a joint written statement issued by the spokesperson and deputy spokesperson unless a decision has been reached on its approval. A constituency nomination signed by at least 200 persons eligible to vote may also be withdrawn by the majority of the signatories through a statement bearing their personal handwritten signatures.

Article 24

Alteration of Constituency Nominations

After expiration of the submission period for nominations, a constituency nomination may be altered only through a joint written statement issued by the spokesperson and the deputy spokesperson and only if the candidate dies or has become ineligible to stand for election. The procedure laid down in Article 21 need not be observed and the signatures as defined in Article 20 (2) and (3) shall not be required. No alterations of any kind shall be allowed after a decision has been made on the approval of a constituency nomination (Article 26 (1), sentence 1).

Article 25

Rectifying of Faults

(1) The District Returning Officer must examine the constituency nominations immediately upon receipt. If he finds faults in a constituency nomination, he shall immediately notify the spokesperson and demand him or her to rectify the faults that can be corrected in due time.

(2) After expiration of the submission period for nominations, faults may only be rectified in nominations which are otherwise valid. A nomination shall not be deemed valid if

1. the form or deadline prescribed in Paragraph (2) has not been observed,

2. the valid signatures required pursuant to Article 20 (2), sentences 1 and 2, and Paragraph (3), together with proof that the signatories are eligible to vote, are missing, unless such proof cannot be furnished on time due to circumstances beyond the control of the person eligible to make the nomination,

3. in the case of a party nomination, the name of the party has been omitted, the recognition of party status required under Article 18 (2) above has been refused, or the proof required under Article 21 has not been furnished,

4. the candidate has not been adequately designated, so that his identity cannot be established, or

5. the candidate has not given his written consent.

(3) No faults of any kind may be rectified after a decision has been made on the approval of a constituency nomination (Article 26 (1), sentence 1).

(4) The spokesperson may appeal to the District Electoral Committee against orders is-sued by the District Returning Officer in proceedings concerning the rectifying of faults.

Article 26

Approval of Constituency Nominations

(1) The District Electoral Committee shall decide on the approval of constituency nominations on the fifty-eighth day before the election. It shall reject constituency nominations if they

1. are submitted too late, or

2. do not meet the requirements set forth in this Law and in the Federal Electoral Regulations, unless something different is specified in these provisions.

The decision must be announced at the meeting of the District Electoral Committee.

(2) If the District Electoral Committee rejects a constituency nomination, an appeal may be lodged with the Land Electoral Committee within three days of the announcement of the decision. The spokesperson for the constituency nomination, the Federal Returning Officer and the District Returning Officer shall be eligible to lodge an appeal. The Federal Returning Officer and the District Returning Officer may also appeal against a decision by which a constituency nomination is approved. The persons concerned attending the appeal proceedings must be heard. The decision on the appeal must be taken not later than the fifty-second day before the election.

(3) The District Returning Officer shall make the approved constituency nominations public not later than the forty-eighth day before the election.

Article 27

Land Lists

(1) Land lists may only be submitted by political parties. They must bear the personal and handwritten signatures of the members of the executive committee of the Land branch or, where Land branches do not exist, those of the members of the executive committees of the next lower regional branches (Article 7 (2) of the Law on Political Parties) that lie within the territory of the Land and, in the case of the parties specified in Article 18 (2), the personal and handwritten signatures of one per thousand of the persons eligible to vote in the Land at the last Bundestag election, but of not more than 2,000 persons eligible to vote. The signa-tories of a constituency nomination of one of the parties specified in Article 18 (2) must be eligible to vote at the time they sign the nomination and proof of this must be furnished when the nomination is submitted. The requirement to present additional signatures shall not apply to Land lists of parties representing national minorities.

(2) Land lists must contain the name of the party submitting them as well as any shortened form of its name it uses.

(3) The names of the candidates must be listed in a recognizable order.

(4) A candidate may only be nominated in one Land and there only in one Land list. A per-son may only be nominated in a Land list if he or she has given his or her written consent; such consent shall be irrevocable.

(5) Article 21 (1), (3), (5) and (6) as well as Articles 22 to 25 shall apply as appropriate, provided that the assurance in lieu of an oath to be given under Article 21 (6), sentence 2 also covers an assurance to the effect that the order of names of the candidates in the Land list has been laid down by secret ballot.

Article 28

Approval of the Land Lists

(1) The Land Electoral Committee shall decide on the approval of the Land lists on the fifty-eighth day before the election. It must reject Land lists if they

1. are submitted too late, or

2. do not meet the requirements set forth in this Law and in the Federal Electoral Regulations, unless something different is specified in these provisions.

If the requirements regarding only individual candidates are not met, their names shall be deleted from the Land list. The decision must be announced at the meeting of the District Electoral Committee.

(2) If the Land Electoral Committee rejects a Land list wholly or in part, an appeal may be lodged with the Federal Electoral Committee within three days of the announcement of the decision. The spokesperson for the Land list and the Land Returning Officer shall be eligible to lodge an appeal. The Land Returning Officer may also appeal against a decision by which a Land list is approved. The persons concerned attending the appeal proceedings shall be heard. The decision on the appeal must be taken not later than the fifty-second day before the election. (3) The Land Returning Officer shall make the approved Land lists public not later than the forty-eighth day before the election.

Article 29

Exclusion from the Combination of Land Lists

(1) The Federal Returning Officer shall be notified about any exclusion from the combination of Land lists (Article 7) by the spokesperson of the Land list concerned and his or her deputy by means of a joint written statement not later than 6 p.m. on the thirty-fourth day before the election.

(2) The Federal Electoral Committee shall decide on the statements issued under Paragraph (1) above not later than on the thirtieth day before the election. Article 28 (1), sentence 2 shall apply as appropriate.

(3) The Federal Returning Officer shall make the combinations of lists and the Land lists for which a statement has been issued under Paragraph (1) above public not later than the twenty-sixth day before the election.

Article 30

Ballot Papers

(1) The ballot papers, their envelopes and the postal ballot letter envelopes (Article 36 (1)) shall be manufactured by the government.

(2) The ballot paper shall contain:

1. for constituency elections, the names of the candidates from the approved constituency nominations; in the case of constituency nominations by parties, also the names of these parties as well as any shortened form of their names they may use; in respect of other constituency nominations, also the distinctive identifying word;

2. for Land list elections, the names of the parties and any shortened form of their names they may use as well as the family and Christian names of the first five candidates from the approved Land lists.

(3) The order of the Land lists of parties which were represented in the last German Bundestag shall be determined by the number of second votes which each obtained at the last Bundestag election in the Land concerned. The remainder of the Land lists shall follow the names of the parties in alphabetical order. The order of the constituency nominations shall be the same as the order of the corresponding Land lists. Other constituency nominations shall follow the names of the parties or the code names in alphabetical order.

Section V

The Poll

Article 31

Public Character of the Poll

Polling shall be public. The electoral board may eject anyone violating public order from the polling station.

Article 32

Inadmissible Electioneering and Collection of Signatures, Inadmissible Publication of Electoral Survey Results

(1) During polling hours, no influence may be exerted on voters by word, sound, writing or image and no signatures may be collected in or around the building in which the polling station is located as well as directly in front of the entrance to the building.

(2) The publication of results of surveys conducted among voters after they have cast their votes shall be inadmissible before the end of polling hours.

Article 33

Preservation of the Secrecy of the Ballot

(1) Measures must be taken to ensure that the voter cannot be observed while marking his or her ballot paper and placing it in the envelope. Ballot boxes used for the reception of the envelopes must ensure the preservation of the secrecy of the ballot.

(2) A voter who is illiterate or who due to a physical handicap is prevented from marking the ballot paper, from placing it in the envelope, from handing the envelope over to the Electoral Officer or from placing it into the ballot box himself or herself may be aided by an-other person.

Article 34

Voting by Means of Ballot Papers

(1) Voting shall be by means of official ballot papers in official envelopes.

(2) The voter shall

1. cast his or her first vote by marking the ballot paper with a cross or other sign so as to clearly indicate which candidate the vote is intended for, and

2. cast his or her second vote by marking the ballot paper with a cross or other sign so as to clearly indicate which Land list the vote is intended for.

Article 35

Voting by Means of Voting Machines

(1) Voting machines may be used of ballot papers, envelopes and ballot boxes to facilitate the casting and counting of votes.

(2) Voting machines as defined in Paragraph (1) above must guarantee the secrecy of the ballot. For use at elections to the German Bundestag, their design must be officially approved for individual elections or on a general basis. The Federal Ministry of the Interior shall decide on the approval of a voting machine on the application of the manufacturer. The permission of the Federal Ministry of the Interior must be obtained before an officially approved voting machine can be used. This permission may be given for individual elections or on a general basis.

(3) The Federal Ministry of the Interior shall, by means of statutory ordinance not requiring the endorsement of the Bundesrat (Council of Constituent States), be authorized to issue detailed provisions on:

1. the prerequisites for the official approval of the design of voting machines as well as for the withdrawal and revocation of the approval,

2. the official approval procedure governing the design,

3. the procedure governing the examination of a voting machine for conformity with the officially approved design,

4. the public testing of a voting machine prior to its use,

5. the procedure governing the granting of official permission for the use of a voting machine as well as the withdrawal and the revocation of the permission,

6. the special points that have to be borne in mind in connection with the election as a result of the use of voting machines.

In the cases specified in nos. 1 and 3, the statutory ordinance shall be issued in agreement with the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.

(4) Article 33 (1), sentence 1, and Paragraph (2) shall apply as appropriate for the operation of a voting machine.

Article 36

Postal Ballot

(1) When voting by postal ballot, the voter shall send the District Returning Officer of the constituency in which his or her polling card was issued a sealed postal ballot envelope containing

a) his or her polling card and,

b) in a separate sealed envelope, his or her ballot paper

in due time to ensure that the postal ballot letter is received not later than 6 p.m. on election day. Article 33 (2) shall apply as appropriate.

(2) The voter or the person assisting him or her must indicate on the polling card that he or she gives an assurance in lieu of an oath to the District Returning Officer that the ballot paper has been marked either personally or in accordance with the declared intent of the voter. The District Returning Officer shall be responsible for accepting such an assurance in lieu of an oath; he or she shall be considered an authority within the meaning of Article 156 of the Penal Code.

(3) In the event of an order from the Land government or an agency designated by it pursuant to Article 8 (3), the place of the District Returning Officer specified in Paragraph (1), sentence 1, and in Paragraph (2) shall be taken by the local authority of the commune that has issued the polling cards or the administrative authority of the district in which this commune lies.

(4) Postal ballot letters may be posted as standard mail without any special form of dispatch and free of charge if they are in official ballot letter envelopes. Anyone who uses a special form of dispatch shall pay the amount in excess of the letter rate otherwise applicable themselves. The Federal Government shall pay the German PTT Administration POSTDIENST the letter rate for every official ballot letter envelope forwarded by it, posted without stamp, or sent by a special form of dispatch

Section VI

Establishment of the Election Result

Article 37

Establishment of the Election Result in the Polling District

After polling has closed, the Electoral Board shall establish how many votes have been cast in the polling district for the individual constituency nominations and Land lists.

Article 38

Establishment of the Postal Ballot Result

The Electoral Board appointed for the postal ballot shall establish how many postal votes have been cast for the individual constituency nominations and Land lists.

Article 39

Invalid Votes, Rejection of Postal Ballot Letters, Rules for Establishing Invalidity

(1) Votes shall be invalid if the ballot paper

1. has not been handed over in an official voting envelope,

2. has been handed over in a voting envelope which obviously differs from the other envelopes in a manner endangering the secrecy of the ballot or which contains a distinctly tangible object,

3. has not been manufactured by the government or is valid for another constituency,

4. shows no marking,

5. does not reveal the voter's intent beyond doubt,

6. contains any addendum or reservation.

In the cases specified in nos. 1 to 4, both votes shall be invalid.

(2) Several ballot papers in one voting envelope shall be considered one ballot paper if their wording is identical or if only one of them has been marked; otherwise they shall count as one ballot paper with two invalid votes.

(3) If the voting envelope has been handed over empty, both votes shall be considered invalid. Where only one vote has been cast on the ballot paper, the vote not cast shall be invalid.

(4) Under the postal ballot procedure, postal ballot letters shall be rejected if

1. the postal ballot letter is not received on time,

2. no or no valid ballot paper is enclosed in the postal ballot letter envelope,

3. there is no voting envelope in the postal ballot letter envelope,

4. neither the postal ballot letter envelope nor the voting envelope is sealed,

5. the postal ballot letter envelope contains several voting envelopes but not an equal number of valid polling cards bearing the prescribed assurance in lieu of an oath,

6. the voter or the person of his or her confidence has not signed the prescribed assurance in lieu of an oath for the postal ballot on the polling card,

7. no official voting envelope has been used,

8. a voting envelope has been used which obviously differs from the other envelopes in a manner endangering the secrecy of the ballot or which contains a distinctly tangible object.

The senders of postal ballot letters that are rejected shall not be counted as voters; their votes shall be considered not cast.

(5) The votes of a voter who has taken part in the postal ballot shall not become invalid if he or she dies before or on election day or is disqualified from voting pursuant to Article 13.

Article 40

Decision of the Electoral Board

The Electoral Board shall decide on the validity of the votes cast and on all matters connected with the poll and the establishment of the election result. The District Electoral Committee shall have the right of verification.

Article 41

Establishment of the Election Result in the Constituency

(1) The District Electoral Committee shall establish how many votes have been cast in the constituency for the individual constituency nominations and Land lists and which candidate has been elected the member for the constituency.

(2) The District Returning Officer shall notify the candidate who has been elected the member for the constituency and shall request him or her to state in writing within a week whether he or she accepts the election.

Article 42

Establishment of the Election Result for the Land Lists

(1) The Land Electoral Committee shall establish how many votes have been cast in the Land for the individual Land lists.

(2) The Federal Electoral Committee shall establish how many seats have been won by the individual Land lists and which candidates have been elected.

(3) The Land Returning Officer shall notify the candidates elected and invite them to state in writing within a week whether they accept the election.

Section VII

Special Regulations for By-Elections and Repeat Elections

Article 43

By-Election

(1) A by-election shall take place

1. if an election has not been held in a constituency or a polling district,

2. if a constituency candidate dies after the approval of the constituency nomination but before the election.

(2) The by-election shall take place not later than three weeks after the day of the general election if Paragraph (1), no. 1 applies and not later than six weeks after the day of the general election if Paragraph (1), no. 2 applies. The date of the by-election shall be set by the Land Returning Officer.

(3) The by-election shall take place in accordance with the same regulations and on the same basis as the general election.

Article 44

Repeat Election

(1) If an election is declared wholly or party invalid as a result of the scrutiny proceedings, it shall be repeated as required by the respective decision.

(2) The repeat election shall take place in accordance with the same regulations, with the same nominations and, provided it is within than six months of the general election, on the basis of the same voters' registers as the general election, unless the decision reached in the course of electoral scrutiny proceedings should prescribe otherwise with regard to the constituency nominations and the voters' registers.

(3) The repeat election must take place not later than sixty days after the decision by which the election was declared invalid has entered into force. Where the election has been declared only partially invalid, there shall be no repeat election if it is certain that a new German Bundestag will be elected within six months. The date of the repeat election shall be set by the Land Returning Officer or, in the case of a repeat election for the whole electoral area, by the Federal President.

(4) The election result shall be newly established on the basis of the repeat election, in accordance with the regulations laid down in Section VI. Articles 41 (2) and 42 (3) shall apply as appropriate.

Section VIII

Attainment and Loss of Membership of the German Bundestag

Article 45

Attainment of Membership of the German Bundestag

An elected candidate shall attain membership of the German Bundestag when the appropriate Returning Officer receives his or her letter of acceptance within the period and in the form prescribed in Article 41 (2) or Article 42 (3), but not before the expiration of the electoral term of the last German Bundestag and, in the case of Article 44 (4), not before the member elected as a result of the original election result has vacated his or her seat. If the elected candidate fails to make a statement or fails to make it in due form before the expiration of the legally prescribed period, the election shall be considered accepted at the time of the expiration. An acceptance with reservations shall be considered a refusal. Statements of acceptance and refusal shall be irrevocable.

Article 46

Loss of Membership of the German Bundestag

(1) A member shall lose his or her membership of the German Bundestag

1. if the attainment of membership is invalid,

2. if the election result is newly established,

3. if he or she fails to meet one of the prerequisites for permanent eligibility for election,

4. if he or she resigns,

5. if the Federal Constitutional Court finds, in accordance with Article 21 (2), sentence 2 of the Basic Law, that the party or party branch of which the member has membership is unconstitutional.

Any grounds for loss of membership as laid down in other statutory provisions shall not be affected.

(2) A member whose election in the constituency is invalid shall nevertheless retain his or her membership of the German Bundestag if he or she was at the same time elected on a Land list but was disregarded pursuant to Article 6 (4), sentence 3.

(3) Resignation shall only be effective if it is declared in writing to the President of the German Bundestag, to a German notary whose seat is within the area of application of this Law, or to a member of a German mission abroad who is authorized to authenticate documents. The member must transmit the declaration of resignation attested by a notary or presented to a mission abroad to the President of the Bundestag. The resignation shall be irrevocable.

(4) If a party or party branch is declared unconstitutional by the Federal Constitutional Court in accordance with Article 21 (2), sentence 2 of the Basic Law, the members shall lose their membership of the German Bundestag, and their successors on the list shall lose their candidacy if they have been members of that party or party branch during the period between the filing of the application (Article 43 of the Law on the Federal Constitutional Court) and the pronouncement of the decision (Article 46 of the Law on the Federal Constitutional Court). If members who have lost their membership in accordance with sentence 1 above have been elected in constituencies, the election of a constituency member shall be repeated in such constituencies, with Article 44 (2) to (4) applicable as appropriate; in these cases, the members who have lost their membership in accordance with sentence 1 above shall not be allowed to candidate. If members who have lost their membership in accordance with sentence 1 above have been elected on the basis of a Land list of the party or party branch declared unconstitutional, their seats shall remain vacant. Otherwise, Article 48 (1) shall apply.

Article 47

Decision on Loss of Membership

(1) A decision on loss of membership under Article 46 (1) shall be made

1. in the case of no. 1, in the course of electoral scrutiny proceedings,

2. in the case of nos. 2 and 5, by a resolution of the Council of Elders of the German Bundestag,

3. in the case of no. 3, if eligibility to stand for election has been lost as a result of a judicial decision, by a resolution of the Council of Elders of the German Bundestag, otherwise in the course of electoral scrutiny proceedings,

4. in the case of no. 4, by the President of the German Bundestag issuing a confirmation of the declaration of resignation.

(2) If a decision on the loss of membership is made in the course of electoral scrutiny proceedings, the member concerned shall withdraw from the German Bundestag as soon as the decision enters into force.

(3) If the Council of Elders or the President of the German Bundestag decides on the loss of membership, the member concerned shall withdraw from the German Bundestag as soon as the decision has been taken. The decision shall be taken ex officio immediately. Within two weeks of the notification of the decision, the member concerned may apply for a deci-sion on the loss of membership to be taken by the German Bundestag in the course of electoral scrutiny proceedings. Notification shall be in accordance with the provisions laid down in the Administrative Notices Service.

Article 48

Appointment of Successors from the Lists and Replacement Elections

(1) If an elected candidate dies or refuses to accept election or if a member dies or later withdraws from the German Bundestag for any other reason, the vacant seat shall be filled by a candidate from the Land list of that party for which the withdrawing member stood at the election. When a successor is to be elected, any candidates on the list who have resigned from the party after the Land list was drawn up shall not be taken into consideration. If the list is exhausted, the seat shall remain vacant. The decision as to which candidate from the list is to succeed to the seat shall be taken by the Land Returning Officer. Article 42 (3) and Article 45 shall apply as appropriate.

(2) If the withdrawing member has been elected as the constituency member for a political grouping standing for election or a party which has not been allowed to submit a Land list in the Land, a replacement election shall be held in the constituency. The replacement election must take place not later than sixty days after the seat has become vacant. There shall be no replacement election if it is certain that a new German Bundestag will be elected within six months. The replacement election shall be conducted according to the general regulations. The election date shall be set by the Land Returning Officer. Article 41 (2) and Article 45 shall apply as appropriate.

Section IX

Final Provisions

Article 49

Contestation

Any decisions and measures directly affecting the electoral procedure may only be contested by means of the legal remedies provided by this Law and the Federal Electoral Regulations and by way of the electoral scrutiny procedure.

Article 49a

Administrative Offences

(1) An administrative offence shall commit any person who

1. contrary to the provisions of Article 11, refuses an honorary post on insubstantial grounds or evades the responsibilities of such office without sufficient excuse or,

2. contrary to the provisions of Article 32 (2), publishes the results of opinion polls of voters´ decisions after voting before the voting period has expired.

(2) A person committing an administrative offence within the meaning of Paragraph 1, no. 1 may be punished with an administrative fine of to 1,000 German marks or with a fine of up to 1000,000 German marks respectively if committing an administrative offence within the meaning of Paragraph (1), no. 2.

(3) Administrative authority within the meaning of Article 36 (1), no. 1 of the Administrative Offences Act shall be

1. for administrative offences pursuant to Paragraph (1), no. 1,

a) the District Returning Officer, if a person eligible to vote unjustifiably refuses to accept the office of Electoral Officer, Deputy Electoral Officer or Member of the Electoral Board or of the District Electoral Committee,

b) the Land Returning Officer, if a person eligible to vote refuses to accept the office of a member of the Land Electoral Committee or evades the responsibilities of such office without sufficient reason,

c) the Federal Returning Officer, if a person eligible to vote refuses to accept the office of a member of the Federal Electoral Committee or evades the responsibilities of such office without sufficient reason,

2. for administrative offences pursuant to Paragraph (1), no. 2, the Federal Returning Officer.

Article 49 b

State Funds for Other Constituency Nominations

(1) Candidates of a constituency nomination which has been submitted by persons eligible to vote pursuant to Articles 18 and 20 who have obtained at least ten per cent of the valid first votes cast in a constituency shall receive 4.00 German marks per valid vote. The funds are to be provided for in the federal budget.

(2) The candidate must apply to the President of the German Bundestag in writing within two months after the constituent assembly of the German Bundestag for the fixing and disbursement of state funds. Applications received after that date shall not be considered. The President of the German Bundestag shall fix the volume of state funds and disburse the funds accordingly.

(3) The provisions of the Law on Political Parties on absolute and relative upper limits shall not apply.

Article 50

Election Costs

(1) The Federal Government shall reimburse the Laender, likewise for their communes (associations of communes), the necessary expenditure arising from the election by paying of a fixed sum for each person eligible to vote, graded according to the size of each commune.

(2) The fixed sum shall be determined by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, with the endorsement of the Bundesrat. The sum shall be determined without consideration being taken of current personnel and material expenditure and costs arising from the use of premises and facilities belonging to the Laender and communes (associations of communes).

Article 51

(repealed)

Article 52

Federal Electoral Regulations

(1) The Federal Ministry of the Interior shall issue the Federal Electoral Regulations necessary for the implementation of this Law. It shall in particular include therein statutory pro-visions regarding

1. the appointment of Returning Officers and Electoral Officers, the establishment of Electoral Committees and Electoral Boards and the activities, quorum and proceedings of the electoral bodies,

2. appointments to honorary electoral posts, the reimbursement of expenses to persons holding honorary electoral posts, and the fining procedure,

3. polling,

4. the formation of polling districts and their notification to the public,

5. the individual preconditions concerning entry in the voters' register, the keeping of such registers, their public display, their correction and closing, objections to and complaints against the voters' register and the notification of persons eligible to vote,

6. the individual preconditions concerning the granting of polling cards and their issuance as well as objections to and complaints against the refusal of polling cards,

7. proof that the preconditions concerning eligibility to vote and to stand for election have been met,

8. the procedure to be followed according to Article 18 (2) to (4),

9. the submission, content and form of nominations and relevant documents, their examination, the rectifying of faults, their approval; complaints against decisions made by the District Electoral Committee and the Land Electoral Committee as well as the announcement of nominations,

10. the form and content of the ballot paper and the voting envelope,

11. the provision, furnishing and notification to the public of the polling stations as well as devices ensuring the secrecy of the ballot and polling booths,

12. voting, also any special arrangements required to meet special conditions,

13. the postal ballot,

14. voting in hospitals and nursing institutions, monasteries and convents, residential premises with limited access as well as socio-therapeutic and penal institutions,

15. the establishment of the election results, their transmission and announcement and the notification of the elected candidates,

16. the conduct of by-elections, repeat elections and replacement elections as well as the appointment of successors from the lists of candidates.

(2) The statutory provisions shall not require the endorsement of the Bundesrat.

(3) The Federal Ministry of the Interior shall be authorized to shorten the periods and deadlines prescribed in the Federal Electoral Law and the Federal Electoral Regulations by means of an ordinance and without the endorsement of the Bundesrat if the Bundestag is dissolved.

Article 53

Transitional Provisions

Article 3 (4) shall apply as appropriate to changes in Land boundaries which are undertaken pursuant to Article 2 (2) and (3) of the Laender Establishing Act of 22 July 1960 (Federal Law Gazette I, no. 51, p. 955).

Article 54

Periods and Deadlines

The periods and deadlines provided for in this Law shall not be extended or changed on account of the fact that the last day of the period in question or a particular date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, a statutory or a legally protected public holiday. Restitution to the former status shall be precluded.

Article 55

Entry Into Force