The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is again rising in the polls thanks to its rhetoric on controlled immigration. A poll conducted last Sunday put the party on seven per cent nationally, high enough to secure it seats in the Bundestag. Regionally, the party hit highs of 12 per cent.
Despite the party’s gains it still trails the more established parties significantly. The poll, by Forza for Stern magazine, saw the ruling CDU/CSU Christian union slip one point to 39 per cent, just two per cent lower than their tally in the 2013 general election. The union is made up of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) which is active only in Bavaria, and the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), which operates in Germany’s 15 other states. Both share a youth wing.
Germany’s oldest political party, the Social Democrat Party (SPD), is still in second place, gaining a point to rise to 25 per cent, while the Greens and the Left shed one point each, now both polling at 9 per cent.
However, the number of undecideds and non-voters is now at 33 per cent, a significant increase on the general election when 28.5 per cent of the population failed to turn up at the polls.
“At 39 per cent, the Union is 2.5 percentage points below its result in the general election two years ago,” said Forsa chief Manfred Güllner.”But while the CDU has dropped 1.6 percentage points in former West Germany, their share in East Germany has dropped more than twice that – namely, 3.5 per cent”
Its sister party, the SCU has fared even worse, falling 5.3 per cent in their Bavarian stronghold. Most of that support was lost to the AfD, thanks to “the attacks of the Prime Minister [of Bavaria] Horst Seehofer against Chancellor [Merkel],” said Güllner, “Floating voters on the right of the CSU to a large extent have switched allegiance to the AfD. Their 2013 parliamentary elections result has been improved upon by 4.7 points to 9 per cent.” In East Germany, the AfD saw their best result, reaching 12 per cent.
An election to the Bavarian parliament would currently see Seehofer retain the leadership, albeit with a diminished majority; likewise the SPD could also expect to be the second largest party with a slight reduction in seats. The AfD polled fourth, but on six per cent they would now secure seats in the parliament for the first time.
Perhaps the most dramatic result is the loss of support for the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. Her approval ratings have dropped a massive nine per cent over the last ten weeks, as Germany has been thrown into chaos thanks to a huge migrant influx.
“However, her position remains relatively strong,” said Güllner, pointing out that, on 47 per cent, she is still enjoying significantly more popularity than her predecessor Helmut Kohl did in his 16 year chancellorship.