Press release no. 02/18 of January 26, 2018

2017 Bundestag Election: more vote splitting than ever

Results of representative electoral statistics released

WIESBADEN/BERLIN – In the Bundestag election on 24 September 2017, 27.3 % of the voters made use of the possibility to split their vote. “More voters than ever cast their first vote and second vote differently”, said Federal Returning Officer Dr. Georg Thiel when presenting the results of representative electoral statistics at a press conference in Berlin.

Vote splitting was used less often by those who cast their second vote for the CDU, CSU and SPD. It was least frequent among those who voted for the CSU; 87.3 % of them cast their first vote for the CSU candidate, too. FDP voters were those who split their vote most often. 56.4 % of them cast their first vote for the constituency candidate of a different party, most often the CDU candidate (33.8 %).

By releasing the representative electoral statistics on the 2017 Bundestag Election, the Federal Statistical Office has for the 16th time presented an analysis of voting behaviour by age group and sex. The results are based on the votes actually cast, rather than on information subsequently provided by voters, which is used by electoral research institutes, for example. This is why representative electoral statistics are one of the most important data sources of empirical electoral research. They could not be replaced by opinion studies and are unique in the world. For the representative electoral statistics in the 2017 Bundestag Election, just over 2,250 polling districts and 500 postal ballot districts were sampled. The sample thus covered a total 2.2 million people entitled to vote.

Here are other major results of representative electoral statistics on the 2017 Bundestag Election:

  • The voters’ age structure reflects the effects of demographic change. In the 2017 Bundestag Election, 36.3 % of the registered voters were aged 60 years or over. In 1990, the proportion had been 26.8 %. At the same time, voter turnout among older voters is above average.
  • Women voted markedly more often for the CDU (29.8 %) than men (23.5 %). However, men cast their vote more often for the AfD (16.3 %) than women (9.2 %). There was no difference between men and women regarding the percentage who voted for the SPD.
  • Among the oldest voters aged 70 or over, CDU, CSU and SPD obtained their highest proportions of votes. 36.5 % of the voters of this age group cast their second vote for the CDU, 25.2 % for the SPD, and 8.1 % for the CSU. The AfD mobilised a rather constant voter potential of 12.8 % to 15.4 % among the 25 to 69 year olds, whereas the party was much less successful among the youngest and oldest voters. The smallest variations between age groups were recorded for FDP and DIE LINKE. GRÜNE had their best results among young and first-time voters.
  • Compared with the 2013 Bundestag Election, CDU, CSU and SPD recorded losses in all age groups, while AfD and FDP obtained more votes everywhere. DIE LINKE, GRÜNE and FDP had their largest increase in votes among young voters aged under 25 years.
  • There is an overproportional share of older people aged 60 or over among the voters of CDU, CSU and SPD, and the share is rising. 44.6 % of CDU voters were at least 60 years old, while for the CSU the share was 43.2 % and for the SPD 43.9 %. Compared with other parties, the voter structure of DIE LINKE and FDP was most in line with the age structure of all persons entitled to vote. GRÜNE voters are comparatively young. AfD voters differ considerably from the age structure of all persons entitled to vote. More than half were aged between 45 and 69 years, while the youngest and the oldest age group were underrepresented.

These figures and other reslts of representative electoral statistics are contained in issue 4 “Wahlbeteiligung und Stimmabgabe der Frauen und Männer nach Altersgruppen” of the series of publications of the Federal Returning Officer on the 2017 Bundestag Election. The issue is available as a pdf file for download from the website of the Federal Returning Officer at: → Bundestag election 2017 → Publications.

Data in the CSV format can also be downloaded for further analysis from: → Bundestag election 2017 → Results → Representative electoral statistics

The statement of the Federal Returning Officer and all press conference documents are available at → Presse → Pressekonferenzen.


For further information: 
Office of the Federal Returning Officer
tel: +49 611 75-4863