A number of elections took place over the weekend - in Afghanistan, New Zealand, and Germany - but it's the German one which stands to produce the most lasting effect (and entertainment, if the first days after the election are any guide). German voters have delivered a result which has puzzled many and has been described by some as unworkable - even though upon closer inspection it has opened up rather than closed down political options for those who are willing and able to realise them.
To begin with, however, the result (which has the conservative CDU/CSU and the progressive Social Democrats neck and neck at around 35%, and the three minor parties Free Democrats, Greens, and Left/PDS at 8-9%) is a clear demonstration of how significantly more representative and democratic the German electoral system is, especially when compared with British, Australian, or U.S. models. A look at the map of directly elected German representatives shows that a Westminster-style election would likely have produced a highly polarised parliament dominated by the major parties, however much their share of the votes has been slashed in the election - potentially with a small number of independents and minor-party candidates holding a tenuous balance of power. Instead, however, the German system adds list candidates to these directly elected representatives until the balance of parties in parliament represents the distribution of votes - and so the 35/34/9/8/8 split in percentages is reflected very accurately in the 225/222/61/54/51 distribution of seats.