A significant fall in support for Merkel
The first opinion polls following the July attacks in Germany indicate a significant fall in support for Chancellor Angela Merkel and her migration policy. According to the 4th August Infratest dimap opinion poll commissioned by ARD TV, 47% of Germans are satisfied with Merkel’s work (a 12 point drop against July’s figures). The dissatisfaction with Merkel’s migration policy has hit a new high – 65% of respondents are opposed to it (7 points more than in July). This is the lowest level of support since October 2015, when this question was first asked in the opinion poll. The drop in Merkel’s approval ratings does not however translate into a fall in support for the Christian Democrats—34% of Germans have stated they would vote for them (this is the same result as in July). The head of the Bavarian CSU, Horst Seehofer, who has criticised the policy pursued by Merkel in the face of the migration crisis, has seen his approval ratings rise considerably. 44% of those polled are satisfied with his work (which represents an 11 point increase in comparison with July). The results of the opinion poll have drawn further speculation that the CSU could extend its activity across the whole of Germany and that Seehofer could be a potential candidate for the position of Chancellor.
- The results of the polls have been influenced by the recent attacks. Almost half of Germans (48.7% according to the INSA public opinion research centre) believe the attacks came as a consequence of Merkel’s migration policy. The falling support for Merkel also stems from a negative assessment of her toned down response to the attacks and the fact that she underlined again that the measures she had undertaken during the migration crisis were appropriate. Meanwhile Horst Seehofer has demanded an increase in police numbers, strict border controls, effective surveillance of migrants in refugee centres and the extension of the competences of the security services to monitor electronic communication.
- According to an opinion poll conducted in April this year, if the CSU ran in the federal election as a separate party, it could count on 19% of support country-wide and the total for the two Christian Democratic parties would be 42.5% of the vote, which is more than they have at present. Despite these predictions, a breakdown in electoral co-operation between the CDU and CSU is not plausible at the moment, nor is Seehofer running for the position of chancellor. The extension of the CSU’s activity across Germany would lead to Bavarians becoming a minority in the party and to them losing (according to the polls) the ability to independently govern their state. The Christian Democratic coalition polling figures still indicate both a certain victory in the parliamentary election in autumn 2017 and also the chancellor’s office (the SPD is polling at only 22%). For now Seehofer will limit himself to exerting increased pressure on the chancellor and the CDU, fighting for his demands to be accepted. 91% of respondents would like him to focus on developing common solutions within the coalition, and not on escalating the party’s internal conflict in the media.
- The SPD, the Christian Democrats’ partner within the ruling coalition, has been seeking to seize the opportunity to win over voters who are dissatisfied with the government’s policies. The head of the Social Democrats, Sigmar Gabriel, has shifted the blame for Germany’s diminished security onto Chancellor Merkel and the Christian Democratic ministers, accusing them of cutting spending on security forces. It is, however, rather unlikely that these charges will lead to an increase in support for the Social Democrats. According to opinion polls, in the forthcoming Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state election scheduled for 4th September, the SPD will come second with 22% of the vote, following the CDU (25%) and finished slightly ahead of the AfD (19%).