Germany’s Social Democrats take surprise lead in election poll

Germany's centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) edged ahead in the race towards September elections on Tuesday, beating Angela Merkel's conservatives in a poll for the first time since 2006.

Germany's Social Democrats take surprise lead in election poll
Olaf Scholz, the SPD's candidate for chancellor, on the campaign trail in Karlsruhe on Monday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Philipp von Ditfurth

The survey of 2,504 people for the NTV broadcaster had the centre-left party in the lead on 23 percent, with Merkel’s CDU-CSU alliance (known as the Union) trailing behind on 22 percent.

The Greens scored 18 percent in the poll, while the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) scored 12 percent and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) managed 10 percent. The Left party trailed behind with six percent in the latest poll. 

READ ALSO: After Merkel – who could be next in line to lead Germany?

The two parties – the. Union and the SPD – are currently in a governing coalition led by the conservatives, with Merkel due to step aside after elections on September 26th.

The CDU-CSU alliance enjoyed a strong lead in the polls going into the summer, but has been on the back foot amid a series of missteps from Armin Laschet, the conservative candidate to succeed Merkel.

In July, Laschet was pictured laughing in the background with local officials while Germany’s president gave a speech mourning the victims of deadly floods.

Since the disaster, the conservatives have been unable to halt a falling trend in popularity.

READ ALSO: German chancellor candidate Laschet loses favour with voters: poll

The Greens, who enjoyed a surge in support earlier in the year, have also failed to regain momentum after their chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock was embroiled in a plagiarism scandal.

READ ALSO: Election 2021: Germany’s Greens holding onto hope for change after Merkel

Until a few weeks ago, the SPD had been polling so badly that many had written off the possibility that it would be part of the next government.

But surveys last week already showed the centre-left party neck-and-neck with the conservatives, who have led Germany in four coalitions since 2005 when Merkel took office.

A survey published Friday also showed 41 percent of voters would prefer the SPD candidate Olaf Scholz to be the next chancellor, compared with just 16 percent for Laschet.

Scholz is the current Finance Minister and Vice-Chancellor – and may appeal to voters who are searching for a stable Angela Merkel-type figure. 

Merkel is bowing out of politics at the upcoming election after leading the country for nearly 16 years. 

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Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament for removing some of his official post-retirement perks over his links to Russian energy giants, his lawyer said Friday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Schröder, 78, has come under heavy criticism for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and involvement with state-backed energy companies.

The decision to suspend Schröder’s taxpayer-funded office and staff in May was “contrary to the rule of law”, Michael Nagel, told public broadcaster NDR.

Schröder “heard of everything through the media”, Nagel said, noting that the Social Democrat had asked for a hearing before the budget committee responsible but was not given the chance to express himself.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over Russia ties

Schröder’s lawyers filed the complaint with an administrative Berlin court, a spokesman for the court confirmed.

In its decision to strip him of the perks, the committee concluded that Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

Most of Schröder’s office staff had already quit before the final ruling was made.

Despite resigning from the board of Russian oil company Rosneft and turning down a post on the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in May, Schröder has maintained close ties with the Kremlin.

The former chancellor met Putin in July, after which he said Moscow was ready for a “negotiated solution” to the war in Ukraine — comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Last week, the Social Democrats concluded that Schröder would be allowed to remain a member after he was found not have breached party rules over his ties to the Russian President.

Schröder’s stance on the war and solo diplomacy has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.