A week ago Merkel looked liked an extreme odds-on favorite to win the next German election.
As I pointed out, that was only because no strong outsider was willing to run against her.
That changed when SPD selected Martin Schulz rather than Merkel’s junior coalition partner Sigmar Gabriel as its candidate.
German voters would elect the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate Martin Schulz as chancellor if the country were to hold direct elections today, an opinion poll conducted for the German broadcaster ARD revealed on Thursday.
Schulz would receive 50 percent of votes cast while Angela Merkel, the current chancellor and head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), would receive 34 percent of the vote.
One needs to be careful here because Germans do not directly vote for a person, they vote for a party.
Nonetheless, “Half of all participants polled also indicated a desire for the SPD to take over leadership of the federal government from the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union. Only 39 percent of those surveyed thought the federal government should continue to be led by a member of the so-called Union of CDU and CSU parties.”
The above chart shows forming any coalition will be difficult.
- Assume neither the left nor the right will deal with AFD.
- Assume SPD refuses to be the minor party in another “Grand Coalition”.
- Assume the Left Party would not join CDU/CSU.
- SPD+Left+Greens = 44
- CDU/CSU + Greens + FDP = 48
- SPD+Left+Greens+FDP = 50
- CDU/CSU + SPD with CDU/CSU as the junior partner = 62
- CDU/CSU +SPD with Merkel stepping down as price to pay
I believe assumptions 1-3 are valid. SPD nearly went down the tubes as Merkel’s junior partner. Schulz will not want to march down that path again.
Option 7 looks increasingly likely, even if CDU/CSU outscores SPD. Alternatively, SPD could simply insist Merkel stand down as the price to pay for letting CDU/CSU stay in power.
Between now and elections
The above chart from Opinion polling for the 2017 German federal election.
On January 25, CDU support hit 37%, SPD support was a mere 23%. That seemingly insurmountable lead is now down to 6 percentage points.
People Fed Up With Merkel
The results are pretty easy to decipher. People have had enough Merkel, but there was no outsider capable of challenging her.
Merkel’s junior coalition partner, SPD’s Sigmar Gabriel, was anything but a fresh face.
Schulz is a first-order europhile who stated that he wants the harshest Brexit possible for Britain.
As foolish as that position is, it may play well with German voters.
On January 30, the Telegraph reported Martin Schulz vows to heal Germany’s ‘divisions’ as he announces bid to oust Angela Merkel
“Germany needs a new start that cannot happen with the [conservative Christian Democratic] Union,” he said.
“We’ve come to the end of what we can achieve with divided conservatives.” German voters have been bitterly divided by Mrs Merkel’s “open door” immigration policy, which saw nearly a million migrants and refugees enter the country over the past two years.
In a brief speech announcing his candidacy, Mr Schulz vowed a “zero tolerance” policy on crime, adding: “I’m liberal, but not stupid.”
He went on to criticise the US election campaign, saying that the “lack of decency” in the debates “shocked me deeply.”
“It opened up rifts and destroyed much in a country which once stood for freedom and tolerance,” he said. “That mustn’t happen to us in Germany.”
In a veiled attack on populist leaders such as Donald Trump, Mr Schulz also claimed that “Pied Pipers are trying to capitalize on the backs of refugees … this is shameful and repulsive. “
Clearly Schulz is talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, each side saying a different thing.
However, Germans are so fed up with Merkel’s gross mishandling of the refugee crisis they appear willing to latch on to any viable alternative.
Elections are scheduled for September 24.
Merkel is exceptionally vulnerable. Nearly anything, or even nothing at all, may topple her. Except for the fact that Schulz is a first-order europhile, intent on punishing the UK, it would be a fitting price for her gross mishandling of the refugee crisis.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock