The electoral system

The members of the Bavarian State Parliament are elected in general, equal, direct and secret election by secret ballot according to an improved proportional representation (PR) system by citizens eligible to vote in the Bavarian State elections. The electoral term lasts five years.

All eligible voters have two votes. With their first vote, they choose one candidate from one party for their ward. The second vote is given to a candidate from constituency lists compiled by the parties before the election. Unlike in federal elections, first and second votes are equivalent for the proportional distribution of the seats among the parties.

First vote (direct mandate constituency seat)

For the election to the Bavarian State Parliament, the Free State of Bavaria is divided into 91 wards. The parties and organised groups of voters put forward one candidate for every ward. Then the voters in this ward can elect one of these candidates with their first vote. Whoever receives the majority of the first votes in a ward enters the Bavarian State Parliament (prerequisite: the ward winner’s party has to have received a total of at least five percent of all valid votes cast Bavaria­wide).

Second vote (seat obtained via a party list)

The constituencies in a state election are identical with the seven administrative regions in Bavaria. Parties and organised groups of voters form lists with their candidates for each of the seven constituencies. The voters of a constituency give their second vote to one candidate from these lists. Anyone who has achieved a place within the number of seats to be allocated overall can enter Parliament. A total of 89 representatives can be designated via the constituencies. For reasons of electoral fairness, the number of total seats to be allocated in a constituency depends on the number of inhabitants.

Distribution of seats

The members of the State Parliament are elected by a proportional system, which means that the competing parties generally receive as many seats in the Parliament as corresponding to their percentage of votes. But to be able to enter the Bavarian State Parliament, the parties need to win at least five percent of the total number of valid votes.

Overhang and compensatory mandates

This special feature of the Bavarian electoral law, which allots two votes for every citizen eligible to vote, can lead to the fact that more than 180 representatives enter the Bavarian State Parliament. The so­called “overhang mandates” are the reason for this. Overhang mandates (and possibly compensatory mandates (compensatory seats) as their consequence) emerge if one party or organised group of voters in the constituency gains more ward mandates (so­called direct mandates) than seats (mandates) they are entitled to in accordance with their total per­centage of votes (total of all first and second votes allocated to them in the constituency).

The tasks of the Bavarian State Parliament

  • The formation of government
  • Legislation
  • Budgetary right
  • Supervisory function
  • Other elective functions and cooperation in other bodies


For more information regarding the tasks of the Bavarian State Parliament please visit our site Function and Role.


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