BERLIN, GERMANY – APRIL 23: Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) sits at the Bundestag on April 23, 2020 in Berlin. Germany is still at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and will have to live with it for a long time, said the Chancellor.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservative alliance has hit an all-time low, deepening an obvious shift in electoral trends in Germany.
Merkel’s Christian-Democratic Union and its affiliated Bavarian party, the Christian-Social Union, recorded a decrease in popularity to 23% in the latest voter poll carried out by Kantar for the newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
The poll of 1,910 Germans found that support for Merkel’s CDU-CSU bloc had fallen again, from 24% in the previous week to the lowest level in the history of the weekly poll.
The Greens remained at the top with 26% of the vote, although their rating was also 1 percentage point lower than the previous week. In third place with 16% was the Social Democratic Party, the current junior coalition partner of the CDU-CSU.
The center-left SPD announced on Sunday that Finance Minister Olaf Scholz would lead his election campaign. In the vote in September against Annalena Baerbock from the Greens and the candidate of the center-right CDU-CSU, Armin Laschet, he will stand to replace Merkel.
Honeymoon of the Greens?
To show how much voter trends are changing, the Green Party has moved from a fringe movement to a contender for governance. If current polls are confirmed in the elections, the Greens will lead the German government with one or two coalition partners.
The economists at Deutsche Bank, led by Stefan Schneider, stated that with coalition options “(at least arithmetically) nothing is impossible”.
“Annalena Baerbock and Armin Laschet’s nominations as candidates for chancellor clearly helped the Greens to gain ground. Not only could they be the kingmaker for the next government, but they could now even appoint the next female chancellor for a whole range of coalition options,” said economists in a note on Friday.
The economists at Deutsche Bank stated that they still consider a black-green government (a coalition with the Greens led by the CDU-CSU) to be slightly more likely than a Green-led traffic light coalition with the SPD and the Liberals (the FDP -Political party). Only the right-wing AfD was excluded from everyone else as a partner.
“It remains to be seen whether Ms. Baerbock’s and the German voters’ honeymoon will last until September election day, as the Green Chancellor’s candidate now has to explain to voters how exactly she intends to implement her political proposals,” they added.
Merkel’s departure after four terms heralds a change in German politics. The coronavirus crisis could also have resulted in the CDU-CSU bloc falling out of favor because of the management of the pandemic – a challenge for any government.
While Germany’s initial handling of the public health crisis has been praised – it managed to keep the initial spread relatively under control with a robust track and trace system and modern hospital infrastructure that kept deaths low – it is as the third wave of infections in Europe stalled earlier this year.
In addition, the country’s vaccination campaign was sluggish. According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, only 9.7% of the adult population in Germany received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, 34.3% received at least one dose. France, Spain, and Italy have given a higher percentage of people two doses, ECDC data shows.
As of Sunday, Germany has eased restrictions on people who have been vaccinated or who have recently recovered from Covid, which means that the rules on social contact, quarantine after travel and a night curfew will no longer apply to these people.
To date, according to the Johns Hopkins University, Germany has recorded over 3.5 million infections and 84,844 Covid deaths.