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The Federal Republic of Germany possesses complex political checks and balances of power. Germans, including residents of Düsseldorf, have long become avid democrats where state elections can reveal a turnout of 70% and above. But votes are just the beginning.

Most people believe democracy reflects majority rule. The truth is, Germany is a classic example that it does not. Indeed, the British mother of them all resisted universal suffrage for centuries. Even Sir Winston Churchill is famously quoted to consider democracy to be the worst system he knew, yet better that all the others.

In Germany too, minorities can hold enormous power even if the constitution presents barriers to political initiatives. Most importantly, a 5% hurdle prevents parties entering parliament.

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The Left wing party has been around since reunification, achieving a fairly small but constant representation. The latest addition is the opportunistic AfD or Alternative for Germany. Formed only a few years ago, this party is on the far right, anti Euro, EU-sceptic, against immigration and Islam phobic. Several more small, sometimes radical, left and right leaning parties exist.

Insights to the election

Germans often struggle with the ever-increasing power their country has attained along with global expectations and demands placed upon their leadership in the world order. Most observers consider major topics in elections to be the continuity of social democracy, immigration, the Euro and the European Central Bank’s quantitive easing as well as trust in a strong leadership.

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The municipal election, Kommunalwahl, is an opportunity for democracy to prove itself every five years. An opportunity for residents in Düsseldorf to vote for council representatives, Wahl des Rates, district representation, Bezirksvertretung, and Mayor, Oberbürgermeister-in.

Checks and balances such as proportional representation apply to the elections. For the Lord Mayor or Mayoress every vote counts directly, representatives are selected also according to party preferences. Voting in local elections is open to expat residents from any EU country.

Original language movies are popular among expats in Düsseldorf. Films are frequently screened in English at a variety of cinemas in original with subtitles, known as OmU or Original mit Untertitel and without, portrayed as OV or Original Version