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Will Germany soon have its first Green chancellor?

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Will Germany soon have its first Green chancellor?
The Greens' co-leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck at a party event in Leipzig last year. Photo: DPA
09:04 CEST+02:00
The Greens are continuing to ride high in the polls. And now a new survey has revealed nearly half of voters would like to see the party submit a candidate for chancellor in the next Bundestag elections.

Following the Green party’s record results in the European elections, the new poll shows 46 percent of Germans – nearly one in two people – are in favour of the party nominating a candidate for chancellor in the next Bundestag elections.

Meanwhile, Robert Habeck, co-chairman of the Greens, received the best score in the survey compared to other potential candidates for Germany's Chancellorship, including Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, leader of the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) who is Chancellor Angela Merkel's successor.

READ ALSO: 'Surfing the Zeitgeist': How the Greens won over Germany

According to research by opinion institute YouGov, only 35 percent of respondents were against the idea of the Green party putting forward a chancellor candidate, while 19 percent did not provide any information on the topic.

Of the Green voters, a sweeping 86 percent said they were in favour of the party nominating a candidate for chancellor.

In contrast, less than a third of the respondents (30 percent) said that the Social Democrats (SPD) should put forward a candidate for chancellor. A total of 47 percent, on the other hand, think the centre-left party should not submit a candidate.

In the representative YouGov survey, 2,042 people were interviewed between June 3rd and 5th.

'Green wave' in Germany

The survey comes after the Greens became the second strongest force in Germany at the European elections at the end of last month, with 20.5 percent of the vote.

The Greens' Annalena Baerbock, Sven Giegold, Ska Keller and Robert Habeck campaigning for the Euro elections. Photo: DPA

Merkel's CDU and allies Christian Social Union (CSU) came first with just over 28 percent – but suffered heavy losses compared to the 2014 elections when the Union won just over 35 percent of the vote.

READ ALSO: The winners and losers: Six things to know about the EU election in Germany

Her long-suffering coalition partner SPD received its poorest showing in an EU vote with around 15.8 percent, knocking the party into third place.

Commentators put the Greens' achievements down to the ‘Greta effect', pointing to the young Swedish climate change activist, Greta Thunberg, who has managed to mobilize people across the world to call out governments on environmental protection issues through Fridays for Future demos.

The Greens are also benefitting from the decline of the so-called Volkspartei (peoples' parties) – the CDU/CSU and SPD, as voters drift to parties that were traditionally on the sidelines but are now taking a centre-stage role.

Who could be future chancellor?

The Green hype in Germany is strong, with lots of media organizations discussing the future of the party and what happens next. The editor of conservative daily Die Welt even wrote an opinion piece called: 'The next chancellor is Annalena Baerbock'. Baerbock is the co-leader of the Greens, along with Habeck.

In the YouGov survey, Habeck (Baerbock was not listed as an option) scored best in comparison to potential candidates for chancellorship from the CDU/CSU and SPD.

A total of 25 percent of respondents would like him to succeed Merkel. Meanwhile, only 13 percent would like CDU leader Kramp-Karrenbauer to lead the country and 9 percent want SPD vice-chancellor Olaf Scholz. However, more than half – 53 percent – did not pick any of the three put forward.

But signalling the strength of the Greens, SPD voters put Habeck ahead of Scholz to take over as chancellor, with 33 to 22 percent.

Pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) voters were also most likely to pick Habeck as chancellor, while Alternative for Germany (AfD) voters would prefer Kramp-Karrenbauer.

Robert Habeck during the Bremen state elections which took place on the same night as the European elections. Photo: DPA

Greens take first place 

It came after the Greens swept into first place in an ARD “Deutschlandtrend” poll, just ahead of the CDU/CSU.

Compared to the previous month, the party gained six percentage points to reach 26 percent.

According to the Infratest-Dimap survey, the CDU/CSU lost three percentage points, coming in second with 25 percent.

The SPD is continuing to dip in popularity after its European election disaster and the resignation of party leader Andrea Nahles.

READ ALSO: Greens top German poll for the first time

Chancellor Angela Merkel of the CDU, and Andrea Nahles, who stepped down as SPD leader. Photo: DPA

Its value dropped by six points to 12 percent – the lowest figure recorded for the SPD in the Deutschlandtrend poll. The AfD climbed by one percentage point to 13 percent. The FDP remained unchanged at 8 percent, while The Left (Die Linke) lost two points and reached seven percent.

In the survey, almost three quarters of voters (72 percent) said they were less or not at all satisfied with the work of the government. This is 10 percentage points more than in the previous month, indicating that Germans are becoming more impatient with the ruling coalition.

A total of 28 percent of people said they were satisfied or very satisfied.

The only way is up

So is this a temporary spike in popularity or are the Greens really here for the long run?

Baden-Württemberg's State Premier Winfried Kretschmann, of the Greens, said his party was here to stay.

The Greens are "the first port of call" for questions about climate and species protection, which many people are concerned about, he told Bild. "It is therefore quite possible that my federal party will receive more support in the long term," he added.

READ ALSO: Why can't Germany's Social Democrats pull themselves together?

Kretschmann said that even large companies, such as Bosch, Daimler, Siemens, Porsche "and many more are now striving for climate neutrality" so they are interested in the Greens' climate protection stance.

He said Germany needs environmentally-friendly production to remain internationally relevant.  That's why the Greens are the "new economic party," he said.

Environmental protests

Meanwhile, climate change was still high on the agenda in the German political landscape.

Environmental campaigners were due to set up a camp in Berlin on Friday afternoon in protest against the government's climate policy. The action was registered with the police as a demonstration with 200 participants, due to take place on the meadow in front of the Chancellor's Office.

The construction of tents, however, is usually not permitted within the framework of the right to demonstrate.

It is possible, however, that organizers will flout the rules and arrive with tents anyway.

Earlier this week, a group of climate change protesters staged a "die-in" protest in Germany's Parliament.

About 20 of the students attending the "Youth and Parliament" event on Tuesday lay on the floor in front of parliamentary speaker Wolfgang Schäuble, while others held up a makeshift banner reading "Your Climate Policies equals Catastrophe."

DPA reported that activist Maximilian Reimers said the stunt was meant to draw attention to how drastic the situation is and to put pressure on the government.

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