Right-wing AfD second most popular party in Germany, poll finds

A poll published on Friday says Alternative for Germany (AfD) would take 18 per cent of the vote if there were Bundestag elections on Sunday, making them the the second-strongest party in the country after the Union.

Right-wing AfD second most popular party in Germany, poll finds
Alexander Gauland, a co-leader of Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Augsburg. Photo: DPA

According to the ‘Deutschlandtrend’ survey published by German broadcaster ARD, the SPD would take 17 percent of the vote, putting them third.

The Christian Democrats and its sister party the Christian Social Union (CDU and CSU) would achieve 28 percent of the vote – their worst result since the ‘Deutschlandtrend’ poll started in 1997.

Meanwhile, 9 percent of respondents of the survey would vote for the FDP, while the Left would receive 10 percent of the vote and the Greens 15 percent.

Overall, the coalition government of Union and SPD would receive 45 percent of the vote – meaning that a grand coalition majority government would not be possible.

Compared to the previous 'Deutschlandtrend' poll on September 6th, the Union and the SPD lose one percentage point each, the AfD increases by two percentage points, while the Greens and FDP each increase by one. The proportion of the Left has remained the same.

Union dip

The Union's popularity dip comes against a backdrop of unsettled weeks, including unrest in Chemnitz involving xenophobic protests rallies after the death of a German man, allegedly by asylum seekers.

The case of Hans-Georg Maaßen, who led Germany's domestic intelligence agency, but was pushed out of the job and given another role in the Interior Ministry has also been major news in Germany, and attracted fierce criticism from the media.

Maaßen had questioned the authenticity of footage in Chemnitz, saying there was no proof that “hunting down of foreigners” had taken place, contradicting Chancellor Angela Merkel who had condemned the behaviour.

Support dwindling

Meanwhile, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU), appears to have been harmed by his involvement in the dispute over Maaßen. Only 28 per cent of respondents said they considered him as a good Interior Minister, down from 39 percent in April. 

At the same time, the support for the 69-year-old is also dwindling considerably among Union supporters. Only 31 percent said they were still satisfied with his work, compared to 45 percent in April this year.

SEE ALSO: In depth – Is the AfD becoming too extreme?

The supporters of all other parties are mostly critical of the current leadership of the Interior Ministry. But Seehofer scored significant points among the supporters of the AfD. The poll found 61 percent of them were behind him, largely due to his stricter stance on migration, including not allowing refugees already registered in another EU country to enter Germany.

For the survey, Infratest Dimap polled 1,035 voters Monday through Wednesday and asked respondents to answer the questions as if Bundestag elections were taking place Sunday.

Strong approval for social housing
Before a housing summit in the Chancellor's Office on Friday, respondents were also asked their views on the most effective measures to relax the rental market.
Almost half of eligible voters (46 percent) believe that more money for social housing is the most effective public measure to ease the situation on the rental market.
Every fourth citizen (26 percent) believes in the effectiveness of the rental price brake (rent control), while 13 percent of respondents said a stronger promotion of private housing would be useful.
A total of eight percent said direct financial support to tenants through housing allowance would be an effective measure against accommodation shortages.

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Germany edges a step closer to a government led by the Social Democrats

The Social Democrats' Olaf Scholz said that his party together with the Greens and the Free Democrats had a "mandate" to form a government in Germany, after the parties agreed to begin coalition talks.

The SPD's chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz speaks to reporters in Berlin on Wednesday.
The SPD's chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz speaks to reporters in Berlin on Wednesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

“Voters have given us a mandate to build a government together,” Scholz told journalists after the Greens and the liberal FDP agreed to meet his party Thursday to begin discussions over a possible three-way coalition.

The move brings Scholz a step closer to the chancellery after 16 years of Merkel’s centre-right-led government.

The political upheaval in Germany was unleashed by last month’s general election which Scholz’s centre-left party won with 25.7 percent, followed by Merkel’s centre-right CDU-CSU bloc at 24.1 percent.

For either party to head the next German government it would need the support of the centre-left Greens and the pro-innovation and business Free Democrats (FDP), which came third and fourth.

Despite leading the conservatives to their worst-ever election result, beleaguered CDU leader Armin Laschet insisted he still has a shot at the top job.

Speaking to reporters, Laschet said the conservatives “respect the decision” by the two kingmaker parties to pursue a coalition with the SPD.

But the CDU-CSU is “still ready to hold talks,” he said.

READ ALSO: German coalition talks – Greens want to govern with Social Democrats and FDP

CSU leader Markus Söder however gave a more sobering assessment, saying the possibility of a CDU-CSU government had essentially been “rejected”.

The conservative bloc must now prepare itself for a stint in opposition after four Merkel-led coalitions, he said.

“This will change our country,” Söder said, adding: “The conservatives will enter a new era too.”

Recent surveys suggest most Germans want Scholz, who is also finance minister and vice chancellor, to become the next leader of Germany.

‘Building bridges’ 

Green co-leader Annalena Baerbock said that after preliminary discussions with the SPD and CDU-CSU, the Greens “believe it makes sense” to focus on a tie-up led by the Social Democrats.

Baerbock said Germany faced “great challenges” and needed “a new beginning”.

“This country can’t afford a lengthy stalemate,” she said.

READ ALSO: 10 German words you need to know to keep up with the coalition talks

Greens co-leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck give a press conference on Wednesday after exploratory talks.
Greens co-leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck give a press conference on Wednesday after exploratory talks. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

The FDP said it had accepted the Greens’ proposal to move on to formal exploratory coalition talks with the SPD.

The first such three-way talks will start on Thursday, FDP leader Christian Lindner said.

The Greens and the FDP are not natural bedfellows, diverging on key issues including taxation, climate protection and public spending.

But both parties have said they also have common ground and want to “build bridges” in order to govern.

All sides are eager to avoid a repeat of the 2017 election aftermath, when the FDP dramatically walked out of coalition talks with the conservatives and the Greens and it took months for a new government to take shape.

 ‘Not a done deal’

A tie-up of the SPD, Greens and FDP, which would be a first in Germany, has been dubbed a “traffic light” constellation after the parties’ red, green and yellow colours.


Green co-leader Robert Habeck said that while the party shared some common ground with the conservatives, there are “significant differences” too.

Informal talks over the last few days revealed “more overlap” with the Social Democrats, he said, on issues like climate protection, social justice and European integration.

The clear preference for a Scholz-led government is likely to put further pressure on Laschet, whose political future hangs in the balance.

Gaffe-prone Laschet, once seen as a shoo-in for the chancellery, fell out of favour with voters after he was caught laughing during a tribute to victims of Germany’s deadly floods in July.

The FDP however threw Laschet a lifeline by stressing that the conservatives were not out of the running yet.

The FDP’s Lindner said a coalition with the CDU-CSU and the Greens – dubbed a “Jamaica” alliance because the parties’ colours match that country’s
flag – “remains a viable option for us”.

The FDP has served as the junior partner in a conservative-led government before, and they share a dislike for tax hikes, red tape and a relaxation of Germany’s strict debt rules.

Green co-leader Habeck also cautioned that “nothing is a done deal yet”.

Merkel herself is bowing out of politics, although she will stay on in a caretaker capacity throughout the coalition haggling.