Germany's parliament [official website, in German] approved a new election law [text, PDF, in German; press release, in German] Thursday that will help the small political parties gain legislative seats. Germany uses a mixed-member proportional representation voting system which has voters cast two ballots, one for a constituent and one for a party. When a party wins more constituent votes than party votes, they receive "overhang" seats. The new law will grant "compensation seats" to smaller parties to retain proportionality. The new law will result in a larger and more balanced parliament. The next federal elections are scheduled for September.
The new legislation was drafted after Germany's Federal Constitutional Court [official website, in German] struck down the previous election law [JURIST report] in July for violating the constitutional guarantee of direct, free and equal elections. The previous election law worked to strengthen already large parties in parliament. However, the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) [party website, in German] party of Chancellor Angela Merkel [BBC profile] is expected to remain the strongest force in parliament.