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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German parliament to hold urgent debate on citizenship

Politicians will gather in the Bundestag on Thursday afternoon for an urgent session on Germany's planned changes to citizenship law.

German parliament to hold urgent debate on citizenship

According to information on the Bundestag website, the urgent discussion was scheduled on the request of the opposition CDU party, who have been fiercely critical of the planned reforms in recent days.

The debate, which is scheduled to start at 2:50pm and last an hour, will see MPs air their views on the government’s planned changes to citizenship law.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) is currently in the process of drafting a bill that will simplify and speed up the naturalisation process in Germany, which she said this week is “as good as done”.  

The law will end a ban on dual nationality for non-EU citizens, meaning people from places like India, the USA and the UK can naturalise as Germans without losing their current citizenship – or citizenships. 

It also foresees a dramatic reduction in the amount of time it takes to become eligible for German citizenship.

In future, people would be able to naturalise after five years of residence in the country rather than the current eight, while people who speak good German or fulfil other integration criteria could naturalise after three years rather than six.

Additionally, the Interior Ministry wants to grant automatic German citizenship to the children of foreign parents – provided their parents have been in the country at least five years – and remove language requirements for members of the guest-worker generation who want to become German. 


‘We don’t need reform’

High-profile politicians from the CDU have slammed the government’s plans to ease citizenship rules, with parliamentary leader Thorsten Frei describing the move as an attempt to “sell-off” German passports as a “junk commodity”.

“We don’t need reform,” Frei told public broadcaster ZDF. “There would no majority whatsoever in any party’s supporters for this change.”

Earlier this week, CDU leader Friedrich Merz had argued that expediting the naturalisation process would damage integration and allow people to immigrate into the benefits system more easily. 

“The CDU will not close its mind to a further modernisation of immigration law and the citizenship law of the Federal Republic of Germany,” Merz told a meeting of CDU and CSU MPs in Berlin on Tuesday.

“However, we also attach importance to the fact that the granting of citizenship takes place at the end of an integration process and not at the beginning of it.” 

The CDU and CSU have previously been vocal opponents of permitting dual nationality, arguing that holding more than one citizenship would prevent people from fully integrating into German life. 

Nevertheless, it remains unclear if the opposition will be able to block the legislation in any meaningful way.

If there aren’t any substantial changes to the core of the citizenship bill when the amendments are made, the Interior Ministry believes it won’t need to be put to a vote in the Bundesrat – the upper house where the CDU and CSU hold a majority.

Instead, the parties of the traffic-light coalition – the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) – would simply be able to vote it through in the Bundestag. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Could Germany’s conservatives block dual citizenship?