Germany's recent election TV debate didn't do the SPD any favors, with a monthly survey indicating the party is losing support among the public. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU alliance is clearly in the lead.
With just over two weeks to go until Germany's election on September 24, every vote counts, so the latest DeutschlandTrend poll by has likely disappointed the Social Democrats (SPD) all the more. Compared to the previous month, the center-left party dropped 2 percent in the polls and, if the election were today, would only take 21 percent of the vote. Support for the alliance of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), remains unchanged at 37 percent.
If the poll results were real election results, then the combination of the CDU/CSU and SPD would be the only option for a two-party majority coalition. When asked which of the parties should lead the future government, one in two respondents (52 percent) said the CDU/CSU. Only 30 percent are in favor of political change by an SPD-led cabinet. Two weeks ahead of the election, there seems to be little desire for change in the country.
Pollster Infratest dimap was cautious about the latest numbers, stressing the fact that only half of the electorate has already made a choice. Fewer than two out of 10 respondents (17 percent) have a preferred party, but they also say that their decision can still change. Fewer than three out of 10 (29 percent) are inclined to not vote or have not yet revealed a party preference.
Apart from questions on political parties, the survey asked voters to directly compare Chancellor Merkel and her SPD challenger Martin Schulz. Merkel is still ahead of the competition, but Schulz scores points for being in touch with citizens.
Three weeks before the election, voters were asked who they would choose if they could vote directly for chancellor. Fewer than 54 would percent would re-elect the incumbent and only 36 percent would vote for Schulz. Merkel has managed to gain five points, while Schulz is holding on to the ratings he attained prior to the TV debate. Merkel's lead has increased significantly. Only one in seven respondents (14 percent) cannot or will not spontaneously choose between the two.
Merkel also does well in the list of the 12 most popular German politicians. Sixty-three percent of respondents are satisfied with her work, an increase of 4 percentage points compared to early August. Martin Schulz has managed to gain 6 percent, but overall, he has only reached 39 percent. Schulz takes sixth place and Merkel, second. For the first time, the top spot goes to German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. Sixty-six percent of respondents are satisfied with the former SPD leader who decided to not run as SPD's top candidate in favor of Martin Schulz.
Are the Germans doing too well?
Schulz's election campaign doesn't seem to be getting off the ground. His central "social justice" political platform may not be resonating with what many voters perceive as an economically booming and prosperous Germany. Indeed, the majority of Germans continue to view their personal economic situation as positive. Seventy-eight percent rate their own financial situation as very good or good. Ten percent of Germans across all parties rate the situation as very dangerous, while every second person finds it dangerous.
Bad news for Turkey?
When it comes to the issue of Turkey, Germans are more unified. In last Sunday's TV debate, Schulz and Merkel both spoke out in favor of terminating EU accession negotiations with Turkey. This result shows the greatest agreement in opinion with a large majority of German citizens.
The population has clear expectations with regard to the German government's dealings with Turkey: nine out of ten citizens (88 percent) demand that the cabinet in Berlin take a more decisive stance on the Turkish government. Three-quarters (77 percent) argue that the German government should advocate economic sanctions against Turkey. On the other hand, however, a clear majority of 80 percent also thinks it is right not to completely break off dialogue – a view that his widely held in all political camps.