SPD faces melt­down a week be­fore elec­tion

Schulz faces hu­mil­i­a­tion as lat­est poll puts So­cial Demo­cratic Party on just 20% Hard right Al­ter­na­tive für Deutsch­land now in third place with 12% sup­port

The Irish Times - - World News - DEREK SCALLY

Ger­many’s So­cial Demo­cratic Party faces melt­down a week be­fore the fed­eral elec­tion, af­ter a slump in sup­port to just 20 per cent.

If its poll rat­ings are borne out in a week’s time, the elec­tion re­sult will be the worst-ever for the party and a hu­mil­i­a­tion for Martin Schulz, who is chal­leng­ing An­gela Merkel for the chan­cel­lor­ship.

Six months af­ter he was elected SPD leader with 100 per cent party sup­port, Mr Schulz has watched his pop­u­lar­ity evap­o­rate and a gap open up with Dr Merkel’s Chris­tian Demo­cratic Union (CDU). Dr Merkel’s party, in power since 2005, is steady on 37 per cent.

The last ARD pub­lic tele­vi­sion poll be­fore the Septem­ber 24th elec­tion had an­other shock: the hard right Al­ter­na­tive für Deutsch­land (AfD) is in third place with 12 per cent.

Next Bun­destag

Ger­many’s next Bun­destag is likely to be its most crowded ever, with six po­lit­i­cal par­ties. The lib­eral Free Democrats (FDP) is in fourth place with 9.5 per cent, ac­cord­ing to the poll, fol­lowed by the Left and Greens on nine and 7.5 per cent re­spec­tively.

The fi­nal re­sult in a week’s time could yet con­tain some sur­prises as the ARD poll, con­ducted by the In­frat­est polling agency, re­vealed that 43 per cent of vot­ers had yet to make up their minds.

An­other poll yes­ter­day gave the SPD 23 per cent, level with its worst-ever re­sult in 2003, with the AfD neck-and-neck for third place with the FDP.

AfD vot­ers

Polling agen­cies say they have cor­rec­tive fac­tors to com­pen­sate for po­ten­tial AfD vot­ers not ad­mit­ting their in­ten­tions in in­ter­views.

While Dr Merkel and her CDU is likely to lead Ger­many’s next gov­ern­ment, the polling ex­ec­u­tive said the mood among the Ger­man elec­torate was “volatile”.

In six months, the SPD – cur­rently the ju­nior part­ner in a coali­tion with the CDU – rose al­most level with the CDU in polls be­fore col­laps­ing again in re­cent weeks.

“In 20 years I have not seen any­thing like that,” said Michael Kunert of the In­frat­est polling agency. “That is a per­fect ex­am­ple of how short-term cer­tain moods can bub­ble up.”

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts at­tribute the SPD col­lapse to a cam­paign with­out enough dis­tinc­tion to Dr Merkel’s cen­trist course. “The SPD aban­doned its tra­di­tional cen­tre-left work­ing class base, so now the vot­ers have aban­doned the SPD,” said Dr Gero Neuge­bauer, a po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist in Ber­lin.

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