Greens become ‘most popular political party’ in Germany

The Greens have risen to become the most popular party in Germany, according to a new survey.

Greens become 'most popular political party' in Germany
Baerbock after she was selected as chancellor candidate on Monday. Photo: DPA

The party’s surge in popularity comes following the historic selection of Annalena Baerbock as the Greens’ first chancellor candidate on Monday. 

On Tuesday the conservative CSU/CDU executive committee also selected North Rhine-Westphalia’s state premier Armin Laschet (CDU) over contender and Bavarian state premier Markus Söder to represent the alliance in the national elections, set to take place on Sunday September 26th.


A big change

A recent poll, published on Tuesday evening, asked voters who they would cast their ballot for if elections were taking place right now. 

The CDU/CSU fell by seven percentage points to 21 percent as compared to the last weekly poll. The Greens gained five percentage points, surpassing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, and rising to first place with 28 percent.

The centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) lost two percentage points and now stands at 13 percent. The pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) gained two percentage points, while the Left Party and the other smaller parties each gained one percentage point.

Only the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) remains unchanged.

The survey was conducted by the Forsa polling institute on behalf of the RTL media group. A total of 3,505 people were surveyed from April 13th, and 1,502 of them only on April 20th – or after Laschet had been elected as candidate for chancellor. 

47 percent would have preferred Söder

Elected as head of the CDU in January, Laschet would usually be the obvious choice to lead the centre-right CDU and its Bavarian CSU partner into the elections.

But the 60-year-old has been panned in recent months for flip-flopping on measures aimed at curbing the coronavirus spread in his state, even attracting criticism from Merkel herself.

READ ALSO: Meet Armin Laschet, the king of comebacks grasping for Merkel’s throne

Laschet’s claim to be chancellor candidate was fiercely contested by Söder, 54, who after months of keeping Germans guessing about his ambitions finally announced his bid for the top job on April 11th.

Many voters also preferred Söder, a controversial but well-liked figure who has often butted heads with Merkel.

A total of 32 percent of those surveyed agreed with the decision to choose Armin Laschet as the CDU/CSU’s candidate for chancellor, but 47 percent would have preferred Söder.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the two men vying to replace Merkel as German chancellor

Yet more Germans are pleased with the Greens’ choice: 54 percent of people think it was a good decision for 40-year-old Annalena Baerbock to become the Greens’ candidate for chancellor, whereas 23 percent would have preferred Robert Habeck to become the top candidate.

Of the Green Party’s supporters, 79 percent welcome Baerbock’s nomination, which marks the first time the party has ever sent one of its leaders into the race for chancellor.

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Germany’s ‘traffic light’ parties sign coalition agreement in Berlin

Two and a half months after the federal elections on September 26th, the three parties of the incoming 'traffic light' coalition - the SPD, Greens and FDP - have formally signed their coalition agreement at a public ceremony in Berlin.

Traffic light coalition
Germany's next Chancellor Olaf Scholz (front, left) on stage in Berlin with other members of the new coalition government, and their signed agreement. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

The move marks the final stage of a 10-week week process that saw the three unlikely bedfellows forming a first-of-its-kind partnership in German federal government. 

The SPD’s Olaf Scholz is now due to be elected Chancellor of Germany on Wednesday and his newly finalised cabinet will be sworn in on the same day. This will mark the end of the 16-year Angela Merkel era following the veteran leader’s decision to retire from politics this year. 

Speaking at the ceremony in Berlin on Tuesday morning, Scholz declared it “a morning when we set out for a new government.”

He praised the speed at which the three parties had concluded their talks and said the fight against the Covid crisis would first require the full strength of the new coalition.

Green Party co-leader Robert Habeck, who is set to head up a newly formed environment and energy ministry, said the goal was “a government for the people of Germany”.

He stressed that the new government would face the joint challenge of bringing climate neutrality and prosperity together in Europe’s largest industrial nation and the world’s fourth largest economy.

Green Party leader Annalena Baerbock spoke of a coalition agreement “on the level of reality, on the level of social reality”.

FDP leader Christian Lindner, who managed to secure the coveted role of Finance Minister in the talks, declared that now was the “time for action”.

“We are not under any illusions,” he told people gathered at the ceremony. “These are great challenges we face.”

Scholz, Habeck and Lindner are scheduled to hold  a press conference before midday to answer questions on the goals of the new government.

‘New beginnings’

Together with the Greens and the FDP, Scholz’s SPD managed in a far shorter time than expected to forge a coalition that aspires to make Germany greener and fairer.

The Greens became the last of the three parties to agree on the contents of the 177-page coalition agreement an in internal vote on Monday, following approval from the SPD and FDP’s inner ranks over the weekend.

“I want the 20s to be a time of new beginnings,” Scholz told Die Zeit weekly, declaring an ambition to push forward “the biggest industrial modernisation which will be capable of stopping climate change caused by mankind”.

Putting equality rhetoric into practice, he unveiled the country’s first gender-balanced cabinet on Monday, with women in key security portfolios.

“That corresponds to the society we live in – half of the power belongs to women,” said Scholz, who describes himself as a “feminist”.

READ ALSO: Scholz names Germany’s first gender-equal cabinet

The centre-left’s return to power in Europe’s biggest economy could shift the balance on a continent still reeling from Brexit and with the other major player, France, heading into presidential elections in 2022.

But even before it took office, Scholz’s “traffic-light” coalition – named after the three parties’ colours – was already given a baptism of fire in the form of a fierce fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Balancing act
Dubbed “the discreet” by left-leaning daily TAZ, Scholz, 63, is often described as austere or robotic.
But he also has a reputation for being a meticulous workhorse.
An experienced hand in government, Scholz was labour minister in Merkel’s first coalition from 2007 to 2009 before taking over as vice chancellor and finance minister in 2015.
Yet his three-party-alliance is the first such mix at the federal level, as the FDP is not a natural partner for the SPD or the Greens.

Keeping the trio together will require a delicate balancing act taking into account the FDP’s business-friendly leanings, the SPD’s social equality instincts and the Greens’ demands for sustainability.

Under their coalition deal, the parties have agreed to secure Germany’s path to carbon neutrality, including through huge investments in sustainable energy.

They also aim to return to a constitutional no-new-debt rule – suspended during the pandemic – by 2023.

FDP cabinets
Volker Wissing (l-r), FDP General Secretary und designated Transport Minister, walks alongside Christian Lindner, FDP leader and designated Finance Minister, Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP), the incoming Education Minister, and Marco Buschmann, the incoming Justice Minister. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler


Incoming foreign minister Annalena Baerbock of the Greens has vowed to put human rights at the centre of German diplomacy.

She has signalled a more assertive stance towards authoritarian regimes like China and Russia after the commerce-driven pragmatism of Merkel’s 16 years in power.

Critics have accused Merkel of putting Germany’s export-dependent economy first in international dealings.

Nevertheless she is still so popular at home that she would probably have won a fifth term had she sought one.

The veteran politician is also widely admired abroad for her steady hand guiding Germany through a myriad of crises.