Shock Poll: Merkel’s Party Falls Behind Social Democrats as Migrant Crisis Looms

German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a press conference after a virtual G7 summit on the crisis triggered by Taliban's return to power in Afghanistan, at the Chancellery in Berlin, on August 24, 2021. - Efforts to evacuate thousands of people from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan became increasingly urgent on August 24, as …
JOHN MACDOUGALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political party has fallen behind the Social Democrats for the first time in 15 years, as her potential successor has failed to win over voters and a second migrant crisis looms.

A poll conducted by Forsa for the German broadcasters RTL and NTV, found that the Social Democrats (SPD) are now leading the Christian Democrat Union (CDU) of Angela Merkel in the upcoming German elections.

The centre-left SDP is now leading the CDU by a margin of 23 to 22 per cent, marking the first time since 2006 that Merkel’s party fell behind the Social Democrats in the poll.

The shock poll also represents a dramatic shift since the start of the year, when the CDU was polling at 36 per cent, compared to 15 per cent for the SPD, which at the time came in third behind the Green Party.

The September elections mark the first time that Chancellor Merkel is not on the ballot since coming into power in 2005.

Her tipped successor, CDU party leader Armin Laschet, has so far failed to gain traction in the polls, and a series of embarrasing gaffes, including being filmed laughing at the site of a deadly flood this summer, have only made matters worse for the ruling party.

When surveyed on who they would select if voters could directly chose as chancellor, Laschet is currently polling in third place with 11 per cent. This is behind the Greens’ candidate Annalena Baerbock at 15 percent and far behind the Social Democrat candidate, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, at 30 per cent.

Speaking to reporters in Berlin on Tuesday, Chancellor Merkel attempted to downplay the poor polling numbers, saying: “We will work every day to get a good election result and not look every day at the polls,” adding: “Ultimately it is the ballots of voters in the ballot box that count.”

“We are fighting, or the party is fighting — I personally am not up for election,” Merkel continued, claiming that the CDU had a “good opening” to its official campaign on Saturday.

“The problems that arise — the pandemic and now this very, very bitter issue of Afghanistan — will be dealt with… by the government in such a way that is as good as possible for people in our country,” Merkel said.

Laschet, for his part, said that he wouldn’t comment on the polls, but claimed that there is support for his candidacy within the party.

“We must exert ourselves, and everyone knows that everyone counts. That will give us motivation in the last five weeks until the election,” he said.

The poor polling results for Angela Merkel’s party comes amid increasing concerns that a second migrant crisis could be facing Europe following President Biden’s bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Chancellor Merkel singlehandedly opened the borders of Europe to an estimated 1.2 million migrants amid the fallout of the Syrian civil war in 2015. Estimates have forcased that up to 3 million migrants could head to Europe in the wake of the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban.

In July, the former head of Germany’s domestic spy agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Hans-Georg Maassen said that Merkel’s migration policies have been “fatal” to Germany.

Maassen who is running for the Bundestag (German parliament) as a candidate in Merkel’s own party said: “[Germans] simply cannot understand why ever more people are coming into this country even though they obviously have no right to asylum; why we aren’t deporting them and why politicians just put up with the fact that the people here are falling victim to these migrants.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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