Forsa chief executive Manfred Güllner has expressed his doubts that the SPD can restore its former glory, and has said that the party of Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt could be overtaken long term by the Greens.
“The size relationship between the SPD and the Greens could switch at a national level,” Güllner told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Tuesday, saying that the SPD, traditionally one of Germany’s two major parties, is suffering from a lack of credible candidates.
“Potential SPD voters are discouraged to vote for the party in its current incarnation,” said Güllner. “Before, centrist voters would have voted for (former SPD Chancellors) Helmut Schmidt or Gerhard Schröder, but now there is nobody in the SPD who can attract these voters. There are no attractive candidates.”
According to Güllner, the Greens, traditionally a much smaller party, now have a pool of potential voters as big as that of the SPD, and also have a credible candidate for pragmatic voters in co-chairman Robert Habeck.
Güllner argues that SPD politicians such as party leader Andrea Nahles are not attracting voters. Photo: DPA
“A personality like Robert Habeck suits the new, pragmatically oriented Green voter very well,” Güllner told NOZ.
“To paraphrase Gerhard Schröder, the Greens can now become the chef, while the SPD may have to make do with the role of waiter.”
Schröder, who lead an SPD-Green coalition as Chancellor from 1998 to 2005, had said on taking power that the bigger SPD was to play the role of chef, while the Greens were the waiters.
At that time, the SPD were able to amass just over 40 percent of the vote, while the Greens won less than seven percent.
Nowadays, the two parties are much closer. Recent surveys by Emnid and Infratest see the Greens polling at 15 percent, just three points behind the SPD, who are struggling on a record low of 18 percent.
The SPD, who have been the junior partner in a grand coalition with Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU faction in three of the last four governments, are failing to transform the promise of renewal under new leader Andrea Nahles into cold, hard support.
Manfred Güllner is known for his bold predictions. Photo: DPA
The Greens, meanwhile, have risen steadily in the polls since last September’s election, having won just under nine percent of the votes in the autumn.
The far-right AfD party have also risen in the polls during this legislative period, polling between 14 and 17 percent in surveys carried out by the seven major polling institutes.
Güllner is an SPD member, and has been no stranger to making bold claims about democratic trends in the past. He has publicly criticised leading SPD politicians, and in 2013, wrote a controversial book about the rise of the Green Party.