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A by-election is an election in a sub-area (typically a constituency ) at a later date or on a different schedule than the main election.


A by-election may be necessary for various reasons. The most common international case is that during the legislative period a member of parliament dies, resigns or for other reasons is no longer able to exercise his or her mandate. Since 1953, this election is no longer called a by-election , but a substitute election in German federal electoral law , and only takes place if the MP was not elected for a party that also participated in the election with a list ( Section 48 (2) Federal Election Act ); however, since 1953 there has not been a single such independently elected MP, and thus never a replacement. Otherwise the seat will be filled with a replacement from the party list; if this is exhausted, the seat will not be filled again ( Section 48 (1) Federal Election Act).

Other arrangements are also possible, in Tasmania, for example, the votes of the last election are counted again, whereby the votes cast by the departed MPs are not taken into account.

In most countries with majority voting rights, however, vacant seats are filled by by-election. Such elections are often considered unimportant, as they usually do not result in a shift in the majority. They are given supra-local importance by those who see them as a test choice between the normal elections. If there is a tight majority or if several vacant seats need to be filled at the same time, a by-election can also be decisive. In 1978, for example, 15 by-elections were held in Canada in a single day, a mini-election that met with great media coverage.

By-elections are only held if the next general election is not expected too soon. In many countries, including Germany, this period is six months. If the next general election is scheduled earlier, the seat remains vacant.

Seats that were filled by by-election usually have a shortened legislative period so that the next election coincides with the general election. This does not apply to newly elected mayors or district administrators in Bavaria: They are elected for the full term of office, which means that all subsequent elections in the communities concerned take place later than the general local elections.


German Bundestag

According to Section 43 of the Federal Election Act , a by-election takes place in two cases:

  1. If the election was not held in a constituency or constituency,
  2. If a constituency applicant, i.e. a direct candidate , dies after the nomination has been approved but before the election is carried out.

In the first case the election has to take place no later than three weeks, in the second case no later than six weeks after the main election. This means that the regulation for federal elections differs from that in Bavaria , for example , where a dead direct candidate can still be elected; if he is elected, the next one on the list moves up for him.

Such a by-election can even take place on the same day as the normal election, if there is enough time between the death of the candidate and the election day for the proper process.

There have been such by-elections in five Bundestag elections so far :

Main choice By-election Constituency reason victorious party
09/17/1961 10/01/1961 151 Cochem Death of the candidate Fritz Klein ( SPD ) CDU
09/19/1965 10/03/1965 135 Obertaunuskreis Death of candidate Erich Henz ( AUD ) CDU
09/19/1965 10/03/1965 236 Schweinfurt Death of the candidate Ernst Meier ( DFU ) CSU
01/25/1987 02/01/1987 141 Gross-Gerau Destruction of the ballot box on election day at 5:45 p.m. by eight strangers in black with the help of a Molotov cocktail CDU
09/22/2002 09/22/2002 295 Sigmaringen Death of the candidate Dietmar Schlee ( CDU ) CDU
09/22/2002 09/22/2002 230 Passau Death of the candidate Maic-Roland Muth ( PDS ) CSU
09/18/2005 10/02/2005 160 Dresden I Death of the candidate Kerstin Lorenz ( NPD ) CDU

First German Bundestag

In the first German Bundestag , there were fourteen by-elections for members who left the parliament during the legislative period in accordance with Section 15 old version of the electoral law for the first Bundestag. The electoral law was changed in January 1953 and replaced by the now customary replacement regulation.

By-election Constituency previously elected member of the Bundestag Reason for by-election newly elected MdB
May 14, 1950 29 Kulmbach Friedrich Schönauer ( SPD ) Death of the Member of the Bundestag on April 2, 1950 Johannes Semler ( CSU )
November 19, 1950 63 Arnsberg - Soest Heinrich Lübke ( CDU ) State Minister, resigned on September 29, 1950 Ernst Majonica (CDU)
03/11/1951 2 Kassel Georg-August Zinn (SPD) Prime Minister, resigned on January 21, 1951 Ludwig Preller (SPD)
04/15/1951 1 Hofgeismar - Waldeck - Wolfhagen Karl Rüdiger ( FDP ) Death of the Member of the Bundestag on February 20, 1951 Hans Merten (SPD)
05/06/1951 18 Hanover North Bruno Leddin (SPD) Death of the Member of the Bundestag on March 25, 1951 Egon Franke (SPD)
05/27/1951 44 Donauwörth Martin Loibl (CSU) Death of the Member of the Bundestag on April 16, 1951 Wilhelm Niklas (CSU)
09/23/1951 12 Neustadt an der Weinstrasse Ernst Roth (SPD) Death of the Member of the Bundestag on May 14, 1951 Willy Odenthal (SPD)
12/02/1951 33 Nuremberg - Fürth Wilhelm Fischer (SPD) Death of the Member of the Bundestag on October 21, 1951 Johann Segitz (SPD)
March 16, 1952 31 resin Hermann Stopperich (SPD) Death of the Member of the Bundestag on January 6, 1952 Hans-Joachim Fricke ( DP )
03/30/1952 4 Heilbronn Georg Kohl (FDP) Death of the Member of the Bundestag on January 31, 1952 Adolf Mauk (FDP)
05/04/1952 11 Friedberg - Büdingen Wilhelm Knothe (SPD) Death of the Member of the Bundestag on February 20, 1952 Kurt Moosdorf (SPD)
05/04/1952 10 Segeberg - Neumünster Carl Schröter (CDU) Death of the Member of the Bundestag on February 25, 1952 Walter Bartram (CDU)
05/18/1952 3 Bremerhaven - Bremen-North Bernhard Lohmüller (SPD) Death of the Member of the Bundestag on March 2, 1952 Philipp Wehr (SPD)
11/09/1952 19 Hanover South Kurt Schumacher (SPD) Death of the Member of the Bundestag on August 20, 1952 Ernst Winter (SPD)


In Namibia elections (Find English by-elections ) for the office of president (not yet happened in history) as well as regional and local level instead. They must be held within three months of the vacancy of a seat.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Electoral Act 5 of 2014. Republic of Namibia, Section 63 and references. Retrieved March 3, 2020.