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German election: Social Democrats gaining ground — opinion poll

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Less than two months before the general election, current Finance Minister Olaf Scholz is emerging as the most popular candidate to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel.

On September 26, Germany holds a general election, which will also determine who takes over from Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is not standing for reelection after 16 years in office.

Just months ago, almost everything pointed to a clear election victory for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) — which has been the case for the most past seven decades.

Back then, in mathematical terms, things looked good for a coalition government of the conservatives with the Green Party for months. Together they were predicted to receive an impressive 57%.

Then support for the CDU/CSU fell well below 30%, and they were temporarily overtaken by the Green Party in May’s Deutschlandtrend poll by the Infratest dimap institute. Still, it seemed clear that either CDU chairman and candidate for the chancellorship, Armin Laschet, would succeed Merkel, or it would be the Green Party’s candidate, Annalena Baerbock.

Three months later, the winds have shifted considerably: in the latest Deutschlandtrend poll, the CDU/CSU and the Green party are only at a combined 46%.

The Social Democrats (SPD), who have been the junior coalition partner of the CDU/CSU for many years, have long been predicted to get significantly less support than the 20% they earned at the previous general election in 2017.

But now figures show that SPD chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz may hope to lead a government composed of his party, the Green Party, and the pro-free market Free Democrats (FDP). Only one percentage point separates his party from the Greens. If the SPD and Greens work together with the FDP, the trio could form a so-called traffic light coalition — named for the colors of the three parties: red, green, and yellow.

If the SPD can sustain its support and the CDU/CSU does not lose any more ground, the two parties could also renew their previous coalition. Whether the two parties would still be able to find political common ground is an entirely different issue.

Photo: German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz. EPA-EFE/ALEXANDER BECHER

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