Germany State Elections (Various Dates) and Parliamentary Elections: September 26, 2021

Photo: Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking at a meeting of the European People’s Party (EPP), the center-right European party to which her Christian Democratic Union belongs. In addition to heading Germany’s government since 2005, Merkel is the de facto leader of Europe, and the upcoming elections in Germany are taking place in the context of her retirement. Photo credit: Flickr/European People’s Party (CC BY 2.0)

Freedom House Rating

Government Type
Federal Parliamentary Republic
80.2 million
Federal Elections
Bundestag Elections
Due in Fall 2021
Presidential Election (indirect)
By February 16, 2022 (due)
State Elections
Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate State Elections
March 14, 2021
Saxony-Anhalt State Elections
June 6, 2021
Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and Berlin State Elections
Fall 2021 (due)
North Rhine-Westphalia, Saarland, and Schleswig-Holstein State Elections
Spring 2022 (expected)
Lower Saxony State Elections
Fall 2022 (expected)
Bremen State Elections
Spring 2023 (expected
Bavaria and Hesse State Elections
Fall 2023 (expected)
Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia State Elections

Fall 2024 (expected)
Hamburg State Elections
Spring 2025 (expected)
Federal Elections
Bundestag Elections
September 24, 2017Presidential Election (indirect)
February 12, 2017
State Elections
Hamburg State Elections
February 23, 2020
Thuringia State Elections
October 27, 2019
Saxony and Brandenburg State Elections
September 1, 2019
Bremen State Elections
May 26, 2019
Hesse State Elections
October 28, 2018
Bavaria State Elections
October 14, 2018
Lower Saxony State Elections
October 17, 2017
North Rhine-Westphalia State Elections
March 26, 2017
North Rhine-Westphalia State Elections
May 17, 2017
North Rhine-Westphalia State Elections
May 14, 2017
Berlin State Elections
September 18, 2016
Mecklenburg-West Pomerania State Elections
September 4, 2016
Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg, and Saxony-Anhalt State Elections
March 13, 2016

The year 2021 will be a “Superwahljahr” (Super election year) in Germany. Several sets of state elections are due, as well as federal elections to the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament.

Germany’s 2021 Election Calendar

First, Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate hold state elections on March 14, 2021, and Saxony-Anhalt holds state elections on June 6, 2021. After that, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and Berlin will likely hold state elections in fall 2021, although dates have not yet been set.

Finally, the entire country will vote in elections to the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, which will determine the chancellor, who is head of government and wields most executive power. The president, who is head of state, is elected indirectly and plays a largely ceremonial role. Bundestag elections have been set for September 26.

Political Context

In addition to COVID-19, these elections are taking place in the context of the retirement of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has headed Germany’s government since 2005 and moreover is the de facto leader of the European Union. The current federal government is a “grand coalition” of Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), along with its Bavarian sister-party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Following an intense fight, CDU and CSU have nominated CDU leader Armin Laschet to be their candidate for chancellor. He defeated Bavarian premier Markus Söder, who is more popular with voters.

Meanwhile, over the past year, the Greens have taken SPD’s place as the main center-left party. They have portrayed themselves as responsible and mainstream, and have governed as such when in state governments. Consequently, Annalena Baerbock could become the first Green head of government in the history of the world.

However, despite his unpopularity, Armin Laschet remains the favorite to succeed Merkel as chancellor. Nonetheless, German voters have a real choice and Baerbock, who comes from the party’s “realo” (moderate) wing as opposed to the “fundi” (radical) wing – has an actual shot at the top job.  More

State Elections in Germany

Germany has a federal system with 16 Länder (states) that each have their own constitution, parliament (Landtag) and state government. Although the states have autonomy over internal policy, they do not have their own tax authority. Moreover, political parties are quite centralized at the federal level.

Curated News and Analysis

Constanze Stelzenmüller, Brookings Institution (May 4, 2021): Hello, Berlin? Germany’s future raises foreign policy concerns for allies

Willis Sparks, Gzero (May 4, 2021): Is Germany turning Green?

Emily Schultheis, Foreign Policy (May 3, 2021): Germany’s Post-Pacifist Generation Is Nearing Power

Matthew Karnitschnig, Politico (April 30, 2021): Everyone loves Germany’s Greens (for now)

Esme Nicholson, NPR (April 28, 2021): These Are The Top Politicians Vying To Succeed Angela Merkel As Germany’s Chancellor

Christoph Strack, DW (April 20, 2021): Armin Laschet: The man set to be the CDU’s chancellor candidate

Erika Solomon, Financial Times (April 20, 2021): Annalena Baerbock hopes to somersault to top of German politics

Ben Knight, DW (April 6, 2021): Germany’s far-right AfD searching for new momentum ahead of election

Jeffrey Gedmin, American Purpose (March 24, 2021): Surveilling Germany’s Right-Wing Populists

Nick Ottens, Atlantic Sentinel (March 21, 2021): Don’t Blame Laschet for Poor State Election Results

Reuters (March 19, 2021): Germany’s Greens vow to scrap Russian gas pipeline after election

Geir Moulson, AP (March 15, 2021): Merkel’s party faces German election ‘wake-up call’

Reuters (March 15, 2021): German liberals coy on kingmaker potential after state vote success

Imanuel Marcus, Berlin Spectator (March 14, 2021): Two State Elections Germany: Incumbents Win, CDU Loses in Both Cases

Frank Jordans, AP (February 19, 2021): Beam me up? Bavarian governor eyes top job after Merkel

Andreas Kluth, Bloomberg (February 17, 2021): A Primer on Germany’s Election Year: Watch the Palette

Reuters (February 17, 2021): Coalition with Greens looks a tricky prospect, Bavarian leader says

Hans Von Der Burchard, Politico (February 16, 2021): German election fever has EU sweating on vaccines

Erika Solomon, Financial Times (February 4, 2021): Germany’s grand coalition under stress as vaccine tensions grow

Uğur Tekiner, London School of Economics (January 28, 2021): Germany’s federal election: Is there any way back for the SPD?

Rob Scmitz, NPR (January 22, 2021): Germany Expected To Put Right-Wing AfD Under Surveillance For Violating Constitution

Josie Le Blond, World Politics Review (January 21, 2021): Can Armin Laschet Lead Germany’s CDU Into the Post-Merkel Era?

DW (November 25, 2020): German government sets date for next election: September 26, 2021

DW (June 6, 2019): Germany’s political parties CDU, CSU, SPD, AfD, FDP, Left party, Greens – what you need to know

21votes does not necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed in the linked articles; rather, our goal is to curate a wide range of voices. Furthermore, none of the individuals or organizations referenced have reviewed 21votes’ content. That is to say, their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here

Updated May 12, 2021

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