Candidate's death may delay election result

8th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

8 September 2005, BERLIN - The death of a German election candidate in eastern Saxony state means the final result of the country's general election will be delayed by at least one week, officials said Thursday.

8 September 2005

BERLIN - The death of a German election candidate in eastern Saxony state means the final result of the country's general election will be delayed by at least one week, officials said Thursday.

Voting in Dresden's 160th district will not take place on the scheduled September 18 election day due to the death of a direct candidate for the right-wing extremist National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), officials said.

Given that the deceased candidate's name is on ballots which are already in use for people voting by mail, all voting in the district has been stopped until new ballots are printed up, officials said.

Voting will take place in the district - at the earliest - a week after the general election, they said.

This means Germany's final national election results will be delayed and will also probably mean a delay in the election of Germany's new chancellor in parliament's lower house, the Bundestag.

All other ballots will, of course, be counted after polls close on September 18 and a preliminary official result will be released.

The difficulty is that if the election is close, it may be impossible to say who won until after voting Dresden's 160th district.

Under Germany's complex "mixed proportional representation" election system, what's at stake could be more than just one seat.

Half of the 598 parliament members are elected by direct vote on a first past the post basis.

But the other half goes to the party list for each of Germany's 16 federal states. This ballot is more important of the two for the national outcome because it decides on the basis of proportional representation how remaining seats are distributed.

Under the system of "ueberhangmandate" or over-hang mandates, a party which gains more direct mandate seats, for example 35, than proportional seats, say 32, would be entitled to a bonus of three extra overhang seats.

A mere four over-hang mandates allowed Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democratic (SPD) government with the Greens cling to power in 2002.

Opinion polls show conservative challenger Angela Merkel is in the lead but with Schroeder's SPD gaining.

Only one of Germany's top six polls still gives Merkel's Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) and Free Democratic (FDP) ally 50 per cent. The rest show her at 48 per cent to 49 per cent.

Schroeder's SPD-Greens government is 38 per cent to 41 per cent, with a new poll released Thursday showing a three point increase for the SPD since last week thanks to the Chancellor's strong performance in a weekend TV debate with Merkel.

DPA

Subject: German news

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