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Official Ballot for the German Bundestag Election 2017

A German Explores...

what could possibly go wrong?

Official Ballot for the German Bundestag Election 2017

On September 24, 2017 – 10 days from today – Germany holds elections for the German Bundestag (German Parliament or Congress).

Unlike the Unites States, Germany has a multi-party system, and I thought outsiders might like to see the crazy-long list of crazy-ass parties we can choose from.

Here’s what the 2017 ballot for the German Bundestag Election looks like in the state of Hamburg. Soak it all in…

Image: voting ballot for the German Bundestag Elections 2017

Click image to enlarge
(or see below)

Voting Ballot for the Election of the German Bundestag 2017
Stimmzettel für die Wahl zum Deutschen Bundestag 2017

The Ballot (translated)

Stimmzettel für die Wahl zum Deutschen Bundestag
Ballot for the Election of the German Bundestag (Parliament, Congress)

Sie haben 2 Stimmen
You have 2 votes

First vote (allows to vote directly for a candidate in your district)

Second vote (allows to vote for a party in general within your state)

Huh? What? Two votes? Yep. See this for more info.

The Parties (translated)

SPD, Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands
Social Democratic Party of Germany, center left, second strongest party, currently governing in coalition with CDU

CDU, Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands
Christian Democratic Union of Germany, center right, Angela Merkel’s party

Grüne, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen
Green Party, left

Die Linke
The Left, really left, basically a successor to the former East German SED

FDP, Freie Demokratische Partei
Free Democratic Party, center right, also call themselves Liberals, but not always so liberal

AfD, Alternative für Deutschland
Alternative for Germany, new far right

NPD, Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands
National Democratic Party of Germany, old far right

Die Partei, Partei für Arbeit, Rechtsstaat, Tierschutz, Elitenförderung und basisdemokratische Initiative
Party for Labor, Rule of Law, Animal Protection, Promotion of Elites and Grassroots Democratic Initiative, a tongue-in-cheek satirical party

Freie Wähler
Independent Voters

ÖDP, Ökologisch-Demokratische Partei
Ecological Democratic Party

MLPD, Marxistisch-Leninistische Partei Deutschlands
Marxist–Leninist Party of Germany

BGE, Bündnis Grundeinkommen
Alliance for Basic Income

DiB, Demokratie in Bewegung
Democracy in Motion

DKP, Deusche Kommunistische Partei
German Communist Party, successor to the banned Communist Party of Germany, KPD

Tierschutzpartei, Partei Mensch Umwelt Tierschutz
Party for Animal Protection

V-Partei, Partei für Veränderung, Vegetarier und Veganer
Party for Change, Vegetarians and Vegans

Now if you think those are all the political parties Germany has to offer, you’re way off. Not all parties run in every state. These are just the choices in my home state.

Other greatly insane (yet actual) parties that vie for votes this year in Germany include Die Urbane (A Hip Hop Party), Bergpartei (The Uber Party), Bayernpartei, Bürgerrechtsbewegung Solidarität (BüSo) and, of course, everybody’s all-time favorite, the Beer Party.

A complete list of German political parties is here (in German, more extensive). English version.

Head spinning? Deep breath now! To protect the ability of the Bundestag to govern and avoid fragmentation, only those parties that receive a minimum of 5% of the votes are actually represented. It’s the so-called 5% hurdle, or threshold. After the elections, you’ll likely see only the top six parties take seats in the Bundestag. Everybody else just crawls back into their dark holes, not to come out till the next election.

Related link: How does the German general election work? A very quick run-down of the voting process, with video.

To wrap it all up nicely, these are the official envelopes provided to return my mail-in ballot:

German Bundestag election absentee ballot: pink mail-in envelope
Click image to enlarge
Pink, outer envelope for sending the mail-
in ballot. Holds blue envelope and affidavit.
German Bundestag election absentee ballot: blue mail-in envelope
Click image to enlarge
Blue, inner envelope for sending the mail-in
ballot. Holds the actual ballot with your vote.

Aren’t they pretty? And you thought Germans don’t have a sense of humor.

Good thing this only happens once every four years. SWAK!


Making a Movie in My Backyard

A German Explores...

what could possibly go wrong?

Making a Movie in My Backyard

Cleveland Willis, model and actor
Cleveland Willis
Image source:

The Georgia Film Commission has done a fantastic job attracting movie productions to Atlanta, its surrounding areas as well as to the rest of the state; especially since 2002 when a variety of movie tax incentives were introduced.

Over the past few years, I’ve seen film crews at work on my street alone on several occasions. And this past June, the movies came even closer. There were lights, cameras, and action in my own backyard.

My “backyard” are the woods of the Chattahoochee River.

It was a beautiful Thursday morning, and I woke up unseasonably early. 6:45 AM is usually not my time. After tossing and turning for a while, I decided to get up and start the day early. All against my better judgment, of course.

When I was ready at 8 AM, we had a beautifully mild 68 degrees. If you know Atlanta in the summer, you know 68 is mild. To take advantage and start the day right, I decided to go on a walk in the woods in my backyard. So far, an uneventful, everyday occurrence for me.

This morning, though, the moment I approached the trailhead, a forlorn young man stumbled out of the woods. Long, dark tousled hair, leaves and pine needles all over him, full-sleeve tattoos on both arms. And blood. Lots of blood. It took a moment, but yes, he was covered across his face, around his neck and onto his shirt in blood.

“This is fake! Right?” I asked him. But honestly, I was afraid of the answer. What kind of weirdo did I run into this morning? I was ready to take him to the hospital.

“Yes. We’re making a movie.”

Oh dear Jesus, thank you!

After my brain went through the first round of computing when I first took note of all the details, there were clearly just two options: I had run into an occultic high priest who just finished an early-morning role-play in the forest, or a junkie who got lost in the woods the night before and had stumbled through the underbrush all night.

“Yes. We’re making a movie.”

Clearly, he was messed up well. Kudos to the make-up artist!

The film crew was a six-person team: four (gorgeous) girls and two guys. If I had known that the ratio of film crews would look like this in 2017, I definitely would have chosen a different career.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera to take pictures and show you my bloody friend (who turned out to be Cleveland Willis) and the rest of the crew. But here’s a shot of my trail in the woods they used for shooting.

Dark trail in the woods at the Chattahoochee River

Looks like it has Blair Witch Project written all over, doesn’t it?

Now, their movie will be a thriller; an indie production that they hope to enter into various local film festivals.

Their working title is “Devil by His Side,” and the release is scheduled for September 2017. Let’s look out for them. Can’t wait to see my backyard in the movies. Good luck guys!

As we parted, Cleveland as well as the rest of the crew thanked me for checking on the beat-up stranger when I first ran into him and offering to help. Sadly, sadly, they told me independently from one another that the majority of people they met that morning just walked by and ignored them. No questions asked, no help offered.

Let’s hope their movie has a better ending.


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