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German passports
Germans are split over the issue of dual nationalityImage: Winfried Rothermel/picture alliance
SocietyGermany

Germans divided on plans to fast-track citizenship

December 2, 2022

What do Germans think of their government? What do they make of citizenship reform? Do they support doing business with Qatar? A big survey by Germany's public broadcaster has the answers.

https://p.dw.com/p/4KNIS

December marks one year since Angela Merkel left office as Germany's chancellor. Although her time in government has since faced criticism, especially when it comes to Russia and energy policies, citizens remember their former chancellor fondly. About 62% are still satisfied or very satisfied with her work. That's according to the latest "Deutschlandtrend" survey released by German public broadcaster ARD and conducted by pollsters infratest-dimap. A representative sample of 1318 people was surveyed by telephone and online between November 28 and 30.

Current German Chancellor Olaf Scholz can only dream of the popularity enjoyed by his predecessor. Admittedly, his government has had to tackle many problems within the space of a few months. The war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, climate change, and inflation — all have severe consequences that leave deep scars and dissatisfaction. Currently, 68% of the eligible voters surveyed were critical of Germany's government, which comprises three parties: the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), environmentalist Greens, and neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP).

Infografik Deutschland Trend Zufriedenheit mit der Bundesregierung EN
December marks one year since Angela Merkel left office as Germany's chancellor. Despite facing criticism since, especially when it comes to Russia and energy policies, citizens remember their former chancellor fondly

It is interesting to look at the supporters of the three coalition partners. While 71% of SPD voters and 66% of Greens voters continue to judge the government's performance positively, only 18% of FDP voters do. Not even the supporters of the opposition Union parties — the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU) — are so dissatisfied. Here, 25% approved of the government's performance.

Disputes over German citizenship reform

There continue to be conflicts between the coalition partners. For example, over the reform of citizenship law, which they agreed to tackle as part of their coalition agreement. The Interior Ministry, led by the SPD, has suggested that people wanting to settle in Germany should be able to obtain citizenship after five years of living in the country, instead of the current eight. If people perform well academically or professionally or master the German language, then they could be eligible after three years. But the FDP is stalling.

The proposition is also controversial among citizens. About half (49%) of those surveyed support the plan, and the other half (45%) disagree with shortening the eligibility period.

Opinions also differ depending on people's level of education. About 64% of citizens who have higher-level qualifications are open to the changes in German citizenship law — regardless of which political party they support.

German government seeks to ease citizenship rules

Support grows for CDU and CSU

Infighting between coalition partners rarely goes down well with the public. All three parties are losing support among eligible voters. If federal general elections were held this coming Sunday, the governing coalition would no longer have a majority.

According to the survey, the conservative Union of CDU/CSU is gaining in the polls and, with 30% support, achieved its best result in the Deutschlandtrend survey since March 2021.

Deutschland Trend Infografik EN

However, that does not mean that citizens would have more trust in a CDU/CSU-led government. Only 17% of those surveyed believe that the issues facing Germany would be solved better under CDU/CSU leadership. A further 22% would expect it to perform just as well [as an SPD-led government], 30% just as badly and 24% would expect a conservative-led government to deliver worse results.

Little understanding for radical climate activists

The COP27 UN climate change conference has just ended in Egypt. According to the survey, 82% of Germans see either a "very great" or "great" need for action on climate protection. Only 15% see little or no need. In Germany, people young and old, rich and poor and across the political spectrum — supporters of almost all parties — are firmly united on this issue. Only among supporters of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party are there greater doubts in this regard.

Infografik Deutschland Trend Akzeptanz Klimaprotest EN
According to this latest survey, 82% of Germans see either a "very great" or "great" need for action on climate protection. Yet, when it comes to climate protests involving violations of norms and laws, German citizens are far less supportive

 

However, climate protests that involve violations of norms and laws are not well-tolerated by German citizens, according to the survey. This applies to the actions of the climate activist group "Last Generation." In recent weeks, protests by this group — which uses methods of civil disobedience, such as desecrating works of art or blocking roads — have generated public outrage across Germany and discussions about possible criminal prosecution. A large majority of  Green Party voters even reject such actions.

Football World Cup did nothing for Qatar's reputation

Another current event covered by the survey was the men's Football World Cup, held in Qatar, which runs until mid-December. Qatar was hoping to bolster its international reputation by hosting the competition.

Thomas Müller waving goodbye
Germany bowed out of the soccer World Cup after the first round of the competitionImage: Martin Meissner/AP Photo

But it did not work — for Germans at least. About half of those polled in the ARD Deutschlandtrend survey said their image of Qatar was just as bad as before the tournament began, and a quarter said their impression had become even more critical.

Germany is due to purchase liquified natural gas from Qatar, beginning in 2026. According to the poll, 43% of Germans think it is right to maintain economic relations with Qatar, and 40% think it is wrong.

Like the host country, the big players in the football administration are also gaining no favor with this World Cup. For six out of 10 Germans, their opinion of the world football body FIFA has worsened during the tournament.

Only one in four respondents found the way in which the DFB and national team have taken a stand on the political circumstances and human rights situation in Qatar to be convincing.

Nancy Faeser sitting in the stadium
German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser chose to wear the controversial OneLove armband to a football match in QatarImage: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Should sportspeople share their opinions?

More than half of those surveyed (55%) supported the idea of German athletes expressing their views during competitions in countries that are being criticized for their political and human rights situation. Four out of 10 (39 percent), on the other hand, suggested that German participants in sporting competitions should refrain from making political statements about the host country.

And which team will win the Football World Cup in Qatar? According to the ARD Deutschlandtrend survey, Germany has no clear favorite. About 16% think Spain will win, while 14% back Brazil.

This article was originally written in German.

While you're here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing.

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