Germany’s ruling coalition parties hit all-time low, Greens on the up

A poll published on Friday says Germany's governing coalition parties - the CDU/CSU and SPD - would receive just 39 percent of the vote if there were Bundestag elections on Sunday, the lowest ever combined result.

Germany's ruling coalition parties hit all-time low, Greens on the up
Archive picture of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), Horst Seehofer (CSU) and Andrea Nahles (SPD). Photo: DPA

The Union and the Social Democrats had reached a combined total of 53 percent of the vote after the Bundestag elections last year and they went on to form the grand coalition, reports Tagesschau.

But according to the latest ‘Deutschlandtrend' survey published by German broadcaster ARD, the CDU/CSU would get 25 percent of the vote and the SPD 14 percent. This is the worst result for both parties since the poll started in 1997.

In total, the governing coalition of CDU/CSU and SPD would receive just 39 percent of the votes – in the 2017 federal elections that took place in September last year, both together still reached 53.5 percent.

Greens and AfD in front of SPD

The Greens have celebrated rising election poll results recently and a surge in membership – and at the recent Bavaria state election the party scooped 17.5 percent. In Friday's survey, 19 percent of respondents said they would vote for the Greens, the highest figure since September 2011.

A total of 16 percent would vote in favour of the AfD, meaning that the both parties are ahead of the SPD.

The Left (Die Linke) would get nine percent of the votes and the Free Democrats (FDP) eleven percent.

Compared to the 'Deutschlandtrend' survey on October 11th, 2018, the CDU/CSU, SPD and the Left each lose one percentage point. The FDP gains one percentage point, the Greens two percentage points. The voting share for the AfD remains unchanged.

Loss of stability or igniting the debate?

The poll also showed that 51 percent of those eligible to vote are concerned that the dwindling support of the CDU, CSU and SPD – the so-called German Volksparteien, or peoples' parties – could jeopardize political stability in Germany.

SEE ALSO: The winners and losers – 7 things you need to know about the Bavaria election

But 47 percent of respondents do not share this fear. They expect the new balance of power to lead to broader political debates with several small to medium-sized parties.

Half of the supporters of the Left, Greens and FDP also share the concern about the loss of importance of the mainstream parties. Among AfD supporters, the figure is just under a third.

A total of 1040 voters were interviewed by the Infratest dimap institute for the survey this week and they were asked to answer the questions as if Bundestag elections were taking place Sunday.

Coalition talks continue in Bavaria

The survey was released as the CSU and Free Voters continued their negotiations in a bid to form a coalition together in the southern German state of Bavaria. It came after a short consultation phase between the two parties following the state election on Sunday.

SEE ALSO: CSU and Free Voters begin coalition talks in Bavaria

The CSU dropped 10 percentage points to receive 37.2 percent of the vote, losing their absolute majority, while the Free Voters received 11.6 percent.

The parties “have left no doubt that they see themselves as partners”, reports DPA. The CSU is counting on stability, while Free Voters stress that they see no obstacles to forming a coalition, the press agency adds.

The chairman of the Greens, Robert Habeck, expressed his disappointment with the CSU decision. He told the German media group RND that choosing the Free Voters was “comfortable” for the party but showed the CSU had no desire for change.

Habeck said he interpreted the result of the Bavarian state elections as an appeal for Greens to be in the government in Bavaria participation in the government.

SEE ALSO: Why there was no political earthquake in Bavaria – but Germany is still shaking things up

“The voters gave us the task of implementing a real political breakthrough for Bavaria,” he said. Habeck told RND that “we were clearly voted the second strongest force”.

Politics pause

Meanwhile, in a departure away from politics but sticking with voting, Friday's Deutschlandtrend poll also asked about an apolitical topic: the national football coach.

Despite the recent defeats of the German national football team, support for coach Joachim Löw apparently continues.

A relative majority of 43 percent of the respondents is in favour of Löw remaining national coach. A total of 34 percent said they wanted a replacement, while 20 percent said they were not interested in football and therefore had no opinion on the subject.

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How the Greens want to replace Germany’s €9 ticket deal

New proposals drafted by the Green Party have set out plans for two new cheap travel tickets in Germany as well as a shake-up of the country's travel zones. Here's what you need to know.

How the Greens want to replace Germany's €9 ticket deal

What’s going on?

Germany’s €9 travel deal has been hugely popular this summer, with an estimated 30 million or so passengers taking advantage of the offer in June alone. Now the last month of the three-month offer is underway, there are hopes that the ticket could be replaced by another deal that offers simple, affordable travel on a regional or national basis.

There have been a few ideas for this floating around, including a €365 annual ticket and a €69 monthly ticket pitched by German transport operators. Now the Green Party has weighed in with a concept paper setting out plans for two separate travel tickets to replace the €9 ticket. The paper was obtained by ARD Hauptstadtstudio on Friday. 

Why do they want two different tickets?

The first ticket would be a regional one costing just €29 a month and the second would be a €49 that, much like the €9 ticket, would be valid for the whole of Germany.

This would allow people who mainly stay in their local region to opt for the most cost-effective option while long-distance commuters or those who want to travel further afield could opt for the nationwide offer.

Presumably the ticket would once again be valid for local and regional transport only rather than long-distance trains like the ICE. 

To simplify the system even more, the Greens also want to introduce new travel zones for the regional monthly tickets.

READ ALSO: Has Germany’s €9 rail ticket been a success?

How would the travel zones change?

According to the paper, Germany would be divided into eight regional zones that would include the Berlin-Brandenburg area, the eastern German states of Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt and the northern states of Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania. 

The zones take passengers “statewide at a minimum”, the paper says, for example in the larger states of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and North-Rhine Westphalia.

However, as the map below shows, states will also be clustered together to make larger regions.

One of the major draws of the €9 ticket has been the flat-rate system that allows passengers to travel anywhere in the country using the same ticket. This appears to be what the Greens are trying to replicate with their proposals. 

READ ALSO: What happens to Germany’s €9 ticket at the end of August?

How would this be financed? 

As you might expect, the Green Party is placing less eco-friendly forms of transport in the crosshairs as it looks for cash to fund the cheap tickets.

The first way to free up cash would be to end tax breaks for people with company cars. In addition, taxes on CO2 emissions would be increased. 

This would result in “additional revenues for the federal government and the states, which could flow seamlessly into the financing of cheap tickets”, the paper states. 

However, the Greens don’t set out how much money they think this would bring in or how much the discounted tickets would cost the state in total. 

Is this definitely going to happen?

At the moment, it seems that the Greens are the main voices in the coalition government pushing for a longer term travel deal – and they continue to face opposition from the pro-business FDP.

Unfortunately for the Green Party, the FDP happen to be heading up two crucial ministries that could both play a role in blocking a future offer: the Finance Ministry and the Transport Ministry. 

However, with four out of five people saying they want to see a successor to the €9 ticket in autumn, Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) is currently under pressure to come up with a replacement as soon as possible. 

A passenger sits on the platform a Berlin Hauptbahnhof

A passenger sits on the platform a Berlin Hauptbahnhof waiting for a train. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Joerg Carstensen

At a press conference a few weeks ago, he promised to discuss this with the state transport ministers after analysing how successful the ticket had been.

In particular, researchers will want to look at how many people ended up leaving the car at home and taking the bus or train instead.

Though the data on this is inconclusive at the moment, some studies have shown reduced congestion on the roads while the ticket was running.

In a survey of The Local’s readers conducted last month, 80 percent of respondents said they had used public transport more with the €9 ticket and 85 percent said they wanted to see a similar deal continue in the autumn.

Of the options on the table so far, a monthly €29 ticket was by far the most popular choice.

READ ALSO: ‘Affordable and simple’: What foreigners in Germany want to see after the €9 ticket