With just over three months until the German Federal Election, the race to determine Bundestag seats—and with it, incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel’s successor—is heating up. Our previous poll six weeks ago showed that the Christian Democratic Union (CDU)/Christian Social Union (CSU) was facing a serious challenge from Alliance 90/The Greens, with the environment a key issue affecting voter intention. Our latest research, however, indicates that support for Alliance 90/The Greens has waned, with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) gaining ground as the CDU/CSU’s main challenger.
In our latest voting intention poll for the Federal Election, we find the CDU/CSU in the lead for the second ballot vote, with 23% saying they will vote for the CDU/CSU (up 1%). Meanwhile, the SPD has overtaken Alliance 90/The Greens for the second position, with 18% saying they will vote for the SPD (up 2%), compared to 15% for Alliance 90/The Greens (down 6%). A further 14% say they will vote for the Free Democratic Party (FDP), 13% for Alternative for Germany (AfD), and 12% for The Left.
When those who say they do not know which party they will choose for their second vote in the Federal Election are included, the CDU/CSU lead by 4%: 20% say they will vote for the CDU/CSU, 16% say they will vote for the SPD, 13% say they will vote for Alliance 90/The Greens, and 13% say they will vote for the FDP. After weighting by likelihood to vote, 13% of the sample say they don’t know how they will use their second vote.
In the first vote, which determines the candidates that will represent voters’ constituencies in the Bundestag, the CDU/CSU has slightly strengthened its lead since our last poll: 27% say they will vote for a CDU/CSU candidate as their first vote (up 3%). Meanwhile, 21% say their first vote will be for the SPD (up 5%), 14% for AfD (up 2%), 12% for the FDP (no change), 12% for Alliance 90/The Greens (down 8%), and 9% for The Left (down 1%).
Incorporating respondents who say they don’t know how they will use their first vote (12%), 24% say they will vote for the CDU/CSU, 18% for the SPD, and 12% for AfD.
54% of respondents in our sample say they are ‘certain to vote’ in the Federal Election. This figure includes sizable majorities of those who say they will give their second vote to The Left (69%), AfD (68%), and Alliance 90/The Greens (68%), and slimmer majorities of those who say they will give their second vote to the FDP (62%), CDU/CSU (60%), and SPD (58%), suggesting a higher motivation to vote among supporters of smaller parties than supporters of the major parties.
With Angela Merkel set to retire after 16 years of chancellorship, we asked respondents to reflect upon her overall performance as leader of Germany. 50% of respondents approve of Angela Merkel’s overall performance since she became Chancellor, a slight increase from 46% in May 2021. With 26% disapproving (down 4%), Angela Merkel’s net approval rating is currently at +24%, an improvement on last month’s +16%.
Similarly, the net competency rating of the Government has improved since our last polling, but nevertheless now sits at -9%. A plurality of 38% of respondents say the current German Government is incompetent (down 6%), whereas 29% say the Government is competent (up 10%). Alternatively, 27% say the Government is neither competent nor incompetent (down 2%).
Furthermore, it appears that attitudes to governmental management of the coronavirus crisis have also improved. Half (50%) of Germans say the current Government has not handled the coronavirus crisis well, down from 65% in May 2021, whereas 37% now say the Government has handled the crisis well. Similarly, where last month 68% said they were not satisfied with Germany’s vaccination programme so far, our current polling has this proportion at 61%, with 39% saying they are satisfied.
Overall, public views on the pandemic have grown marginally more optimistic. With respect to the timeline of the coronavirus pandemic in Germany, a majority (65%) of Germans now think ‘the worst is behind us,’ up from a plurality (49%) last month. Likewise, whereas 30% felt ‘the worst was yet to come’ in May, only 19% currently feel that way. Those who voted AfD in the 2017 Federal Election are the least optimistic, with 30% of them saying that ‘the worst is yet to come.’
With 26 September only months away, the CDU/CSU appears in a good position to win the greatest number of Bundestag seats, with the challenge from Alliance 90/The Greens visible in our first voting intention poll noticeably weakened. This recent loss of momentum for Alliance 90/The Greens may be due to the perceived missteps of Greens candidate for chancellor Annalena Baerbock, including an expenses scandal and the proposal to end domestic short-haul flights within Germany. Instead, the SPD has marginally strengthened their standing against the CDU/CSU.