The traffic light wants to drastically reduce the size of the Bundestag and reduce it to the 598 MPs provided for by law.

Professor Möllers, you are a member of the electoral law commission and advised the three parties.

Can the proposal by the SPD, Greens and FDP be reconciled with our personalized proportional representation right at all?

Helen Bubrowski

Political correspondent in Berlin.

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Eckhart Lohse

Head of the parliamentary editorial office in Berlin.

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The proposal solves a whole series of problems: If the draft were passed, there would be no more overhang mandates, no equalizing mandates, federal proportional representation would be established, and each constituency would be occupied by a candidate from the constituency.

Overhang mandates arise when a party has more direct mandates than list mandates in a country.

She wants to abolish traffic lights.

Is this legal?

There have been overhang mandates since the first federal election, but they were rare for decades.

The problem only became really urgent with the fragmentation of the party landscape and the introduction of compensatory mandates.

In the last two elections, the Bundestag has grown so enormously because of you.

Overhang mandates can be prevented.

But then you have to do something about the constituency system.

This is what the traffic light suggests.

The direct mandates must be assigned differently.

SPD, Greens and FDP propose that a constituency should not be awarded to the applicant with the relatively most votes if his party has more direct mandates than list mandates.

In this case, the place should be allocated to another applicant, including so-called substitute votes.

Is that constitutionally permissible?

I think that's not a problem and that seems to me to be the majority opinion.

Ultimately, we have proportional representation.

With this, the constituencies are pre-filtered to determine who will move into parliament.

If you understand it that way, you can also change something about the relative majority rule in the constituencies.

You can assign the constituency to the one with the second most votes in order to maintain proportional representation on the list.

Or you add the substitute voices, as the traffic light now suggests.

So no one would be cheated of their electoral success?

The Union parties in particular, which have won many overhang mandates in the past, like to present the direct mandate as more noble than the list mandate.

There is no rank of mandates.

All mandates are equal after the election.

Those MPs who enter the Bundestag via the list also have their constituency and work there.

The distinction is not made as sharply in electoral law as politicians sometimes portray it to be.

It would be cheating if there was a rule you didn't follow.

The electoral system is very complex due to the intertwining of list and direct elections.

There is therefore no self-evident majority rule.

Even today it can happen that a person who comes first on a list does not even make it into the Bundestag because all the places have been allocated via direct mandates.

Due to the fragmentation of the party landscape, it also happens more and more frequently that someone with a very small relative majority prevails in the constituency.

So injustice is inevitable?

As long as we want both, the nomination of candidates via party lists and direct elections, we will have effects that are not perceived as completely fair.

Those voters whose constituency favorite would not prevail because there were no list mandates would have more weight than others because their substitute vote counts.

Isn't that problematic?