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Biden or Trump? Many Germans don't like either

July 5, 2024

Is democracy in danger in the US and Germany? Yes, the majority of German voters say, according to the ARD Deutschlandtrend poll.

President Biden and former President Trump both stand at podiums against a blue and red background showing the CNN logo.
German media reported extensively on the US presidential debate between Donal Trump and Joe Biden held on June 27, 2024Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The first US presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump and elections in countries where far-right populists are strong, are dominating international headlines this summer.

They're also weighing heavily on the minds of many Germans. These are the findings of the ARD Deutschlandtrend survey, in which infratest-dimap pollsters questioned a representative sample of 1,294 German voters from July 1 to 3.

The future of democracy in the United States is in danger, according to 67% of those polled.

US President Joe Biden is more popular in Germany than his challenger, former President Donald Trump. However, only 28% of those surveyed in the Deutschlandtrend poll think he is the more convincing candidate while 9% say the same of Trump.

The majority, namely 59% of respondents, are not convinced by either candidate for the US election in 2024.

There are major differences though when it comes to which party respondents support. Among Germans who support the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, 40% say that Trump would be the better candidate. Biden is backed most by supporters of the Greens, at 45%.

Cautious mood in Germany

July is usually relatively relaxed in Germany. It's the end of the school year in many Germany states, business often shut for a summer break, the government is in recess and many people take holidays. 

This year, there is also the Euro 2024, the European football championships. This brings back memories of 2006, when Germany enjoyed a "summer fairy tale" full of lightness and joy during the football World Cup.

But 2024 is not 2006. The German national team has certainly done well up, making into the quarterfinals. According to Deutschlandtrend, the majority of Germans believe that the team will reach the semifinals. Despite this, many Germans aren't feeling that carefree because of global crises and a politically uncertain future. Of those questioned in the Deutschlandtrend survey, 69% are also concerned about the future of democracy in Germany.

Huge dissatisfaction with the federal government

79% of Germans are disappointed with the work of the coalition government and only 19% think the coalition of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), the environmental Greens party, and the neo-liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) has done a good job. This is reflected in political attitudes.

If general elections were to be held this week, the three coalition parties would fall far short of a majority, receiving little more support than the center-right opposition bloc of the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU).

The SPD and the Greens would get 14% (-1) and 13% (-1) of the vote respectively. The FDP would receive 5% (+1). The CDU/CSU, as the largest opposition force, would receive 31% (+/-0), while the AfD would receive 17% (-1). The Alliance Sahra Wagenknecht (BSW) would enter the Bundestag with 8% (+3), which is above the necessary threshold. The Left Party, on the other hand, would no longer be represented in parliament with 3% (+/-0). 

The feeling of insecurity has increased dramatically 

According to police crime statistics released in the spring, the number of crimes committed in Germany in 2023 reached its highest level since 2016. At the same time, people feel a great sense of insecurity. 40% of people now say they feel unsafe in public spaces compared to 23% seven years ago. In 2017, three-quarters of German citizens reported feeling very safe or safe in public places, streets or on public transport, compared to just over half today.

The most common fears in public are theft and verbal attacks. Fears of being beaten or sexually harassed are less common as are the fear of being the victim of a terrorist attack.

When asked which party could best ensure public safety, most respondents favored the CDU/CSU.

Almost four in 10 respondents believe that the CDU/CSU is the most competent party to fight crime and criminality. Some 16% of eligible voters prefer the AfD and 11% the SPD. At the time of the 2021 federal elections, twice as many people trusted the SPD on this issue.

This article was originally written in German.