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Germany

Polling a Paradox

Pollsters disagree on what Germany’s voters will make of the country’s current economic problems when they go to the polls next year.

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2002 is an election year in Germany. Will voters re-elect chancellor Gerhard Schröder?

"The public mood is increasingly dissatisfied with the government’s performance ", Richard Hilmer of Infratest dimap opinion research said to the DPA news agency. He sees rising unemployment as the sticking point for the Red-Green coalition at the next election.

Manfred Güllner on the other hand, chief pollster at Forsa opinion research, reckons it will not have any effect on the popularity of the government.

Güllner thinks the current economic impasse will not undermine the popularity of German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder either, although he believes it was careless of him to promise to reduce the unemployment figure below 3.5 million at the last election.

"People are no where near as scared of losing their jobs now compared to 1997", Güllner said. Four years ago, one in four employees were scared of losing their job, now it is only twelve percent.

A clear majority of voters have confidence in Schröder’s leadership. His poll ratings are higher than Chancellor Kohl’s ever were, Güllner added.

But the CDU opposition is catching up. The latest Infratest dimap poll found the CDU had done better than the SPD/Greens for the first time since it lost support through the financial scandal centred on former chancellor Helmut Kohl.

The latest survey, however, cannot be viewed as more than a snap-shot in view of the up and coming elections on 22 September 2002. In the larger picture of things, the result merely reflects the general dissatisfaction of the people, which is likely to swing backwards and forwards as the election campaign starts in earnest.

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