The German federal election system regulates the election of the members of the German Bundestag. According to the principles governing the law of elections set down in Art. 38 of German Basic Law, elections are general, direct, free, equal and secret. Furthermore, German Basic Law stipulates that normally Bundestag elections are to take place every four years and that one has a ‚passive voting right‘ when one comes of age as well as an ‚active voting right‘ as soon as one reaches the age of 18. All further stipulations for the federal elections are regulated by a law called the Federal Electoral Act. Elections only take place on Sundays; postal votes are possible by formal application.
Germans elect their Members of Parliament with two votes in mixed-member proportional elections. One vote is for a direct candidate who is in a plurality voting system competition in every election district. The second vote (considered as more important) is for electoral lists for every state of Germany lined up and ordered by the parties to gain proportional representation. The Bundestag is then filled with candidates that won their electoral districts by first vote and candidates of the electoral lists according to share in second votes. Common practice is that direct candidates are also (well) placed on the electoral lists as a backup. As some memberships are assigned for compensation and overhang, fairness and rightfulness of the German election system is under steady discussion and development.