Germany’s SPD extends lead over CDU/CSU as Greens lose ground: poll

With just three weeks to go until the federal election, Germany's Social Democrats are extending their lead against the conservative CDU/CSU party union whose support has hit a fresh historic low.

Germany's SPD extends lead over CDU/CSU as Greens lose ground: poll
(L-R) The candidate for Chancellor of Germany's social democratic SPD party Olaf Scholz; the candidate for Chancellor of Germany's Greens Annalena Baerbock and the candidate for Chancellor of Germany's conservative CDU/CSU party union Armin Laschet Germany's 'eternal chancellor' Angela Merkel will leave office after general elections scheduled for September 26th, 2021. John MACDOUGALL, Ina FASSBENDER, Daniel ROLAND / AFP

Support for the SPD has gained a percentage point in the last week and now stands at 25 percent, according to the latest INSA poll published by Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday.

The CDU and CSU with Armin Laschet as their candidate for chancellor achieved 20 percent in total, down one percentage point on last week and another historic low, according to Bild.

The Greens – with chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock – lost one percentage point to 16 percent, followed by the FDP in fourth place, unchanged at 13 percent.

Several other polls also showed the SPD above the CDU/CSU, significantly so in some cases.

According to television station ZDF’s political barometer – published Friday – the Social Democrats stood at 25 percent and the Union at 22 percent, German paper Die Welt reported.

And the below chart from shows what the outcome would have been had the election been this Sunday, according to various recent polls, including the INSA one published by Bild.

The SPD is ahead of the CDU-CSU in all of the five most recent polls (highlighted in pink).

Laschet, the 60-year-old leader of Merkel’s CDU-CSU alliance had gone into the election race with a comfortable lead over his rivals from the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens.

But several missteps in the last weeks have left his popularity in the doldrums and support for his party slipping just as Merkel is due to bow out of politics after 16 years as German leader. 

Currently state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Laschet saw the tide turn against him during the deadly floods that struck western Germany in mid-July.

Caught on camera chuckling behind in the background with local officials while Germany’s president gave a speech mourning victims of deadly floods, Laschet has since been unable to halt a falling trend in popularity.

READ ALSO: German chancellor candidate Laschet sparks anger with flood zone laughter

READ ALSO: Gaffe-prone Merkel heir with big shoes to fill

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Germany’s Scholz looks to quell coalition divisions

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will battle on Sunday to put out the fires threatening his government as the three-way coalition meets for crisis talks on a growing series of disputes.

Germany's Scholz looks to quell coalition divisions

A little more than a year after taking office, the relationship between Scholz’s Social Democrats (SPD) and his governing partners, the Greens and the pro-business FDP, looks more strained than ever.

Earlier this week, Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck of the Greens accused his coalition partners of blocking progress, while the FDP’s deputy chief Wolfgang Kubicki compared the Green politician to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kubicki later apologised but the damaging row underlines the state of the three-way coalition — the first in Germany’s post-war history.

The alliance got off to a good start in December 2021 under the motto of their coalition agreement — “Dare for more progress”.

It was put to a tough test when Russia invaded Ukraine just two months on, upending decades of German economic and political certainties.

But tensions have since soared — particularly between the Greens and the FDP.

The two are unnatural bedfellows, with the former set on environmental commitments to phase out nuclear energy and combustion engines, and the latter promoting very different economic policies.

“Everywhere you look in the government there are fires,” German magazine Der Spiegel said, with the partners wrangling over priorities and struggling for compromises.

Boiling over

It could not be “that in a coalition of progress only one coalition partner is responsible for progress and the others for preventing progress”, Habeck said at a Green party event during the week.

Sunday’s talks would be a good opportunity to “overcome blockages” on key issues, Habeck also told broadcaster ARD, blasting the coalition’s record and policy leaks.

At the root of Habeck’s discontent is a controversial project put forward by his ministry to ban the installation of new oil and gas boilers from 2024 — a year earlier than previously planned.

The accelerated move from fossil fuels to greener technologies such as heat pumps would be accompanied by a multi-billion-euro package of financial support for switchers, Habeck has promised.

But the idea has caused ructions within the coalition, with critics underlining the costs involved.

“The plans must go back to the drawing board and be fundamentally revised,” Finance Minister and FDP leader Christian Lindner said after a policy draft was leaked to German daily Bild.

Habeck’s determination had something in common with Putin, Kubicki said. Both, he declared, had “a similar belief that the state, the leader, the chosen one, knows better than the people what is good for them”.

As tempers frayed, SPD general secretary said the partners needed to “find a new way of working”.

“This is an appeal to all three parties in government — these public arguments must stop now,” he said.

‘Explosive material’

The boiler bust-up is only one item on a growing list of disagreements, including pension reform, child benefits and cuts to red tape.

The parties agreed in their coalition agreement to speed up the approval process for key projects to revitalise Germany’s creaking infrastructure.

But while the FDP would like to see support for more new motorways, the Greens want to privilege more climate-friendly projects.

The FDP have also rallied opposition against European Union plans to ban cars with internal combustion engines from 2035, finally wringing a compromise solution out of Brussels on Saturday despite Green scepticism.

Spending demands from across government — including more money for Germany’s sclerotic armed forces — have made the maths harder for the finance minister.

Lindner, who has insisted on a return to Germany’s strict constitutional spending limits, was forced earlier in March to push back the publication of spending plans for 2024 due to a lack of agreement.

Divisions over the budget threaten to bring an end to the coalition, if Scholz fails to back his finance minister, political scientist Juergen Falter told Bild.

Much of the coalition’s discord could be traced back to the fact that “the ideas of the Greens and the FDP simply do not fit together”, he said.

Bringing their opposing views together was always going to be difficult, according to Falter.

“Three-way alliances automatically have more explosive material,” he said.