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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Germany’s Schröder to remain in Social Democrats despite Putin ties

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will remain a member of the ruling Social Democrats (SPD), the party said Monday, finding his ties with Vladimir Putin did not breach its rules.

Germany's Schröder to remain in Social Democrats despite Putin ties

The SPD’s Hanover branch said Schröder, whose party membership falls under its umbrella, was “not guilty of a violation of the party rules, as no violation can be proven against him”.

The branch had opened a hearing in July to discuss 17 motions from local and regional chapters against Schroeder’s ongoing membership of the party.

The decision can be appealed, but legal experts say there are high hurdles for expelling members.

Schröder, chancellor from 1998 to 2005, has refused to turn his back on Putin despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

His stance has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Social Democrats move to dispel Schröder over Putin ties

He has also been widely criticised for holding a number of lucrative posts at Russian energy giants, and it was only after much public pressure that Schröder in May gave up his seat on the board of Russian energy group Rosneft.

He later also announced he would not be joining Gazprom’s supervisory board as initially planned.

Germany’s parliament in May removed some of the perks Schröder was entitled to as an elder statesman, stripping him of an office and staff.

Schröder, 78, who was Angela Merkel’s immediate predecessor, has remained defiant and met with Putin in Moscow in July.

In an interview after the visit, he claimed Russia wanted a “negotiated solution” to the war – comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian
President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Schröder has also called on Berlin to reconsider its position on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which stands completed but was blocked by the German government in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine.