These are the dates you need to know for Germany’s ‘super election year’

It's a busy elections year for the Bundesrepublik: six states are voting on new governments, in addition to federal elections, which will see Chancellor Angela Merkel step down after 16 years at the helm. Here's what you need to know.

These are the dates you need to know for Germany's 'super election year'
A voting booth in Greifswalf, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in 2019. Photo: DPA

2021 is a so-called ‘Superwahljahr’ (or Super Election Year) in Germany. The term has been given when several state elections occur in the same year – this is the first time there’s been such a busy election year since 2011. 

Not only are six states choosing new parliaments, but German-wide elections are also taking place in September. Chancellor Angela Merkel is stepping down after 16 years at the reigns as chancellor.

READ MORE: Life after Merkel: Is Germany ready to think about what’s next?

Each of Germany’s 16 states elects a new parliament every five years. The states where residents will go to the polls this year are: Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Berlin.

Here are the dates when all states will be voting:

March 14th: Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate

June 6th: Saxony-Anhalt

September 26th: Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Berlin and Thuringia (which was originally scheduled for April 25th 2021 but postponed due to the pandemic)

In 2022, the following states will hold their elections:

Spring: Saarland, Schleswig-Holstein, North Rhine-Westphalia

Autumn: Lower Saxony

Local elections in Lower Saxony and Hesse in 2021

March 14th: Hesse will be electing county councils, city councils, municipal councils and local advisory councils.

September 12th: Lower Saxony will be electing county councils, city councils, municipal councils, joint municipal councils, city district councils, local councils and regional assembly (Hanover).

Bundestag election 2021 on September 26th

Germany elects a new federal government every four years. 

The 66-year-old Angela Merkel will not run again for the 2021 Bundestag election. After four legislative periods and 16 years, she will now relinquish the chancellorship. Who will succeed her will be decided on September 26th 2021.

A top candidate for her centre-right Christian Democratic Party (CDU) has not yet been determined for the Bundestag election but it may be the new CDU leader Armin Laschet or leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU, Markus Söder.

READ MORE: Germany after Merkel: Does the new CDU leader have what it takes to be future chancellor?

The centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) are sending Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) into the race to run as the next chancellor.

Even the Greens are debating whether party leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck would be “fit” for Chancellor.

Why will the elections be so expensive this year?

Due to the coronavirus crisis, the Bundestag election could be more expensive than ever before. The Interior Ministry estimates that the election on September 26th will cost a total of 107 million, the Saarbrücker Zeitung newspaper reported in February. 

One of the reasons given by the ministry was that significantly more postal voters are expected because of the pandemic. This would put the costs above the €100 million mark for the first time in the history of the Federal Republic. The 2017 election cost €92 million.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Sleep, seaside, potato soup: What will Merkel do next?

 After 16 years in charge of Europe's biggest economy, the first thing Angela Merkel wants to do when she retires from politics is take "a little nap". But what about after that?

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes and smiles at a 2018 press conference in Berlin.
Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes at a 2018 press conference in Berlin. Aside from plans to take "a little nap" after retiring this week, she hasn't given much away about what she might do next. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

The veteran chancellor has been tight-lipped about what she will do after handing over the reins to her successor Olaf Scholz on December 8th.

During her four terms in office, 67-year-old Merkel was often described as the most powerful woman in the world — but she hinted recently that she will not miss being in charge.

“I will understand very quickly that all this is now someone else’s responsibility. And I think I’m going to like that situation a lot,” she said during a trip to Washington this summer.

Famous for her stamina and her ability to remain fresh after all-night meetings, Merkel once said she can store sleep like a camel stores water.

But when asked about her retirement in Washington, she replied: “Maybe I’ll try to read something, then my eyes will start to close because I’m tired, so I’ll take a little nap, and then we’ll see where I show up.”

READ ALSO: ‘Eternal’ chancellor: Germany’s Merkel to hand over power
READ ALSO: The Merkel-Raute: How a hand gesture became a brand

‘See what happens’
First elected as an MP in 1990, just after German reunification, Merkel recently suggested she had never had time to stop and reflect on what else she might like to do.

“I have never had a normal working day and… I have naturally stopped asking myself what interests me most outside politics,” she told an audience during a joint interview with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“As I have reached the age of 67, I don’t have an infinite amount of time left. This means that I want to think carefully about what I want to do in the next phase of my life,” she said.

“Do I want to write, do I want to speak, do I want to go hiking, do I want to stay at home, do I want to see the world? I’ve decided to just do nothing to begin with and see what happens.”

Merkel’s predecessors have not stayed quiet for long. Helmut Schmidt, who left the chancellery in 1982, became co-editor of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a popular commentator on political life.

Helmut Kohl set up his own consultancy firm and Gerhard Schroeder became a lobbyist, taking a controversial position as chairman of the board of the Russian oil giant Rosneft.

German writer David Safier has imagined a more eccentric future for Merkel, penning a crime novel called Miss Merkel: Mord in der Uckermark  that sees her tempted out of retirement to investigate a mysterious murder.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel forms her trademark hand gesture, the so-called “Merkel-Raute” (known in English as the Merkel rhombus, Merkel diamond or Triangle of Power). (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

Planting vegetables
Merkel may wish to spend more time with her husband Joachim Sauer in Hohenwalde, near Templin in the former East Germany where she grew up, and where she has a holiday home that she retreats to when she’s weary.

Among the leisure activities she may undertake there is vegetable, and especially, potato planting, something that she once told Bunte magazine in an interview in 2013 that she enjoyed doing.

She is also known to be a fan of the volcanic island of D’Ischia, especially the remote seaside village of Sant’Angelo.

Merkel was captured on a smartphone video this week browsing the footwear in a Berlin sportswear store, leading to speculation that she may be planning something active.

Or the former scientist could embark on a speaking tour of the countless universities from Seoul to Tel Aviv that have awarded her honorary doctorates.

Merkel is set to receive a monthly pension of around 15,000 euros ($16,900) in her retirement, according to a calculation by the German Taxpayers’ Association.

But she has never been one for lavish spending, living in a fourth-floor apartment in Berlin and often doing her own grocery shopping.

In 2014, she even took Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to her favourite supermarket in Berlin after a bilateral meeting.

So perhaps she will simply spend some quiet nights in sipping her beloved white wine and whipping up the dish she once declared as her favourite, a “really good potato soup”.