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.
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.
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.
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.
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.