top of page

Satisfaction in German government plummets

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's government has seen its lowest approval ratings since coming to power in 2021. The far-right continues to see a surge in support.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his coalition allies are facing mounting problems in opinion polls
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his coalition allies are facing mounting problems in opinion polls

Despite efforts to project unity, Germany's ruling coalition is failing to win back the approval of voters, according to the latest "Deutschlandtrend" survey published Thursday (31.8.).

The latest figures show record lows for Chancellor Olaf Scholz's government, while the opposition conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) as well as the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) continue their upward trend.

The Deutschlandtrend representative survey of 1,310 eligible voters was carried out by pollster infratest from July 28 through August 30.

Governing coalition suffers satisfaction setback

The survey showed only 19% of respondents said they were "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with the performance of Scholz's government.

It's the lowest Deutschlandtrend satisfaction rating for the German government since the coalition began work in December 2021.

It is not unusual for federal governments to lose support at the beginning of their term of office. However, previous governments were able to rebuild trust among voters with their achievements well before half of the legislative period is over after two years. The current government, however, has not yet succeeded in reversing the trend.

The so-called traffic light coalition — named for the colors of the parties — is comprised of Scholz's center-left Social Democrats (SPD), along with the environmentalist Greens and the neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP).

The survey found the Green Party, in particular, has lost appeal among voters. In May 2021, some 50% of respondents said they would consider voting for the Greens — that figure has now dropped to 32%.

For months, fierce disputes have been raging publicly between the two smaller coalition partners. The initial euphoria with which the unprecedented alliance took over the government in December 2021 has given way to disillusionment. The notion that different political beliefs can be put aside for the sake of a common goal has proven to be a fallacy in everyday government life.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz's personal approval ratings also continue to plummet. He is seen as removed and aloof and has been accused of remaining invisible when the FDP and the Greens argue.

The soft-spoken 65-year-old limits himself to appeals and gentle warnings. After decades in office, the veteran politician has an unshakeable self-confidence and is convinced that he always does the right thing. Carry on undeterred and never doubt yourself, that's the motto with which the trained lawyer has weathered many a political storm, none of which has been able to throw him off course for a long time.

Far-right sees record high support

According to the survey, if Germany were to hold an election on Sunday, the strongest party would be the opposition CDU/CSU conservative bloc with 29%.

The far-right AfD has also maintained its upward trend, with the survey putting it as the second-strongest party with 22% — a record high for the Deutschlandtrend poll.

The most pressing issues for the German public have also made a substantial shift in recent months, the survey also showed — particularly in areas that are frequent points of emphasis for conservatives as well as the populist AfD.

Economy, immigration top list of concerns

This week (after the Deutschlandtrend poll had been conducted) the government announced a 10-point plan for the economy. It includes tax relief worth billions and a reduction in bureaucracy.

The Deutschlandtrend survey showed that concerns over Germany's economy shot up compared with data from earlier this year — with 28% saying it is now the most pressing concern, compared to just 7% in April.

Thursday's poll also showed less voter confidence in Scholz's center-left SPD to tackle economic issues, while the conservative CDU/CSU was seen as the most capable.

According to the survey, immigration and the arrival of asylum-seekers are the second-most pressing issue among voters — rising by 7 points compared to April, making it the second-highest jump.

The issue is a favorite of the AfD, which entered Germany's federal parliament for the first time following the 2017 election after campaigning on an anti-migrant platform. As arrivals of asylum-seekers and refugees slowed in recent years, the party saw its support wane.

Meanwhile, issues that topped the list of concerns a few months ago dropped in the minds of German voters. Concerns over Russia's war in Ukraine fell by 16 points, while worries about climate change as well as energy policy fell by 8 points.

A mood of crisis

Dealing with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and defense issues in the wake of the war in Ukraine have torn deep holes in the state budget. The "debt brake" limiting state expenditure is enshrined in the constitution is creating additional pressure in the coalition. The FDP does not want to incur any new debts from 2024. This is to be achieved through massive budget cuts while raising taxes for the rich is out of the question for the liberals.

The country is slipping further and further into crisis, and a recession is looming. The economy is weakening, energy-intensive production facilities may be moved abroad because of the high electricity prices. In the face of inflation, citizens are wondering how to manage their daily expenses. Anyone looking for an affordable apartment faces almost insurmountable problems and the mayors in towns and communities no longer know where to accommodate asylum seekers.

Source: DW

bottom of page