A timeline of Germany's 2017 elections
With three state elections and the Bundestag vote in the fall, 2017 is a decisive year in German politics. DW looks at key dates leading up to this fall's federal election.
Germany's big election year
The stakes are high for Germany's election year. With Chancellor Angela Merkel up for a fourth term and the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party attempting to cash in on anti-migrant sentiment, one thing is clear - German politics won't be the same by the end of 2017. Here's a look at the most important dates.
March 26 - Saarland state parliament election
Germany's "super election year" kicked off in the small western state of Saarland, on the French border. Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) came out on top, snagging over 40 percent of the vote and securing a third term for state premier Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (L). The populist AfD will also enter Saarland's parliament for the first time after claiming 6.2 percent of the vote.
May 7 - CDU victory in Schleswig-Holstein
State elections in northern Schleswig-Holstein saw Merkel's CDU overtaking the ruling Social Democrats (SPD) in a surprising upset. The CDU, led by top candidate Daniel Günther (above), won 32 percent of the vote while the SPD dropped three points to 27 percent. Anti-immigrant AfD will also enter the Schleswig-Holstein parliament after clearing the 5 percent hurdle.
May 14 - All eyes on NRW election
The CDU pulled off one of it's biggest victories yet, unseating the SPD in its stronghold in North Rhine-Westphalia. The business-friendly FDP also made significant gains and the AfD will also enter parliament after getting 7 percent. As Germany's most populous state with around 18 million residents, the NRW poll is seen as a test run for how the federal election will play out in September.
June 19 - Party applications due
The 97th day before the election is the cut off date for any party to announce its intention to run for the Bundestag. They have to submit their applications by 6 p.m. to the Federal Returning Officer. Roderich Egeler (above) oversees the election and heads Germany's Statistical Office.
July 7 - Who is allowed in?
On the 79th day before the election, the parties that are allowed to take part in the election are announced by the Federal Returning Officer. If a party does not agree with decision, it has four days to file a complaint with Germany's Constitutional Court.
July 17 - Who made the list?
Political parties in Germany have until the 69th day before the election to determine which candidates will be running in which constituency. These representatives make up the first vote on Germany's split ballot. Parties must also submit a list of candidates for the party vote on the second half of the ballot.
July 27 - Fighting for a spot on the ballot
Smaller parties that filed a suit with the Constitutional Court to be allowed to take part in the election will receive their verdicts today. This option has only been available since the last Bundestag election in 2013. At that time, 11 parties petitioned the court to appear on the ballot - but none were successful.
August 13 - Campaigning officially begins
Unlike other countries, parties in Germany cannot put up campaign posters or run TV ads until 6 weeks before the election. But on August 13, the campaign floodgates open and no lamp post will be safe from the cardboard visages of each party's main candidates.
August 20 - Who can vote?
A little over one month shy of the election, the most important list is compiled - the electoral register or voter list. In Germany, every citizen who is 18 years or older can vote in the general election - meaning there are 61.5 million eligible voters this year.
September 3 - Three weeks to go
At this point, all eligible voters should have recieved an authorization certificate in the mail. People who aren't already on the voter list still have time to register. Those who wish to vote-by-mail can request their ballot.
September 18 - Prepping the polls
Less than a week to go and preparations are kicking into high gear. Ballots, polling booths and transport boxes start rolling in and election workers are trained. Local authorities must inform voters where they should go to vote. Residents can still register until 36 hours before the election.
September 24 - Election day
The big day has finally arrived. Schools, gym halls and community centers are transformed as people arrive to cast their ballots. Polling stations open at 8:00 a.m. sharp and at 6:00 p.m. they close again. The votes are tallied and the Federal Returning Officer announces the preliminary results that same night.
September 25 - Winners and Losers
Only after all of the representative and party votes are counted, the final result is announced. If a candidate did not win his or her constituency, they could still get a seat in the Bundestag if they made the party's regional list.
October 24 - The 19th Bundestag convenes
The newly elected parliament must meet for the first time no later than one month after the election. Afterwards comes the tricky work of coalition negotiations, followed by a secret ballot to elect the next chancellor.
November 24 - Everything fair-and-square?
If anyone wants to challenge the validity of the election, they have two months to do so. All voters, the state election overseers, the president of the Bundestag and the Federal Election Commissioner (above) are entitled to appeal the result.