For the first time since 2006, German Social Democratic Party (SPD) is located at the top of the polls, thus giving a significant turn to the electoral campaign, facing the general elections of September 26. After an intensive comeback throughout the summer, the poll carried out by the Forsa demographic institute for RTL and n-tv gave the SPD 23% of the votes, while Merkel’s CDU fell to 22%, the worst registered mark by this demographic institute. The SPD gained two more percentage points last week, culminating an escalation that started from a very hopeless base.
On May 21, the SPD barely obtained in the same survey 12%. The CDU / CSU, for its part, has followed the opposite trajectory for weeks. If before the summer holidays she had a comfortable advantage and was confidently advancing towards the electoral appointment with 33% in the polls, today she does not see the way to stop the fall. Her candidate, Armin Laschet, seems to be squandering Merkel’s exceptional demographic legacy and the causes are mainly her lack of charisma and friendly fire, the incendiary grenades thrown from Bavaria by Markus Söder, who lost the internal race for the conservative candidacy. Since last Friday, Merkel has dedicated the little time that the crisis in Afghanistan leaves her to support Laschet in electoral rallies, but the chemistry between them is more or less non-existent and the German press ironizes about this hardly credible ‘friendship operation’ and that squeaks the voters.
According to Forsa, 22% who obtain the CDU is he worst value that the institute, founded in 1984, has never calculated for the party. The 60% of respondentsFurthermore, they no longer believe in a possible change in trend in their favor before September 26. The fall line, of course, is not very hopeful. A year ago, on August 8, 2020, two days before the SPD nominated Olaf Scholz as a candidate for chancellor, the CDU obtained 38% in the Forsa poll and the Social Democrats only 14%. Today, with Merkel out of the competition, it is Scholz, the vice chancellor of the grand coalition and finance minister, the one who wins in the ranking of the best valued politicians (more than 7 points compared to June, 51%).
The biggest loser is Laschet, who has since dropped 11 popularity points to 29%. In this ranking, respondents indicate with which politicians they see the country “in good hands.” If the first on the list is still Merkel, despite the fact that after four consecutive legislatures in power she no longer appears, in second place appears the president of Bavaria Markus Söder, appreciated by the conservative voters located further to the right and who he misses no opportunity to emphasize that he would have been a better candidate. The internal disputes between the German conservatives largely explain this new electoral map. Another explanation is the profitability of the Scholz exhibition, in front of the compensation to those affected by the July floods and the award of European funds to relaunch the economy after the pandemic.
As of today and taking into account that Greens are at 18% and the liberals of the FDP in 12%, an alliance of greens and conservatives, which was the first option of the CDU, nor a new grand coalition, which is also below the threshold of the majority in Parliament, is not possible. The clearest options would be a ‘Jamaica coalition’ between conservatives, greens and liberals (52%) or a ‘German coalition’ between conservatives, social democrats and liberals (57%) could govern, although arithmetically a ‘traffic light coalition’ formed would also be possible. by the SPD, the Greens and the FDP (53%) or a red-red-green alliance formed by the SPD, the Greens and the Left, although with a reduced majority in Parliament (47%).
The truth is that Scholz still cannot be sure of the victory on September 26. On the one hand, the chancellor in Germany is not chosen by the people, but by the members of the Bundestag, for whom it is membership in the party and parliamentary group that counts, not personal charisma. On the other hand, Scholz’s momentum may reverse. It has already happened with his predecessor, Martin Schulz, and with the green candidate Annalena Baerbock, who came to rank side by side with Merkel in popularity last spring and who today reaches only 33% and fifth place on the list. “The hottest phase of the campaign has not started yet and the CDU always works long term,” Merkel said yesterday about the situation. In the Konrad Adenauer House, they see as the main problem that Laschet is alone, he does not want to surround himself with figures of weight because it would be like presenting a shadow cabinet and sending the signal that he would replace the current ministers if he succeeded Angela Merkel.