Germany election 2021: Who next Chancellor could be as Angela Merkel stands down – polls

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Germany’s election campaign thus far has been turbulent with the Greens in lead position earlier this year, polling ahead of the ruling conservative alliance headed by the outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel. However, a series of missteps and controversies have negatively impacted the party’s position, but environmental issues remain in the hearts of German voters.

Germans will head to the polls to cast their ballots and decide the nation’s political future on September 26.

After 16 years of service, Ms Merkel is leaving front line politics and Armin Laschet has been chosen by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU)/Christian Social Union (CSU) alliance to replace her as party leader.

Mr Laschet is currently Minister President of North Rhine Westphalia and has been the leader of the CDU since Ms Merkel stepped down from the role in January.

The CSU leader Markus Söder was his main competitor for replacing Ms Merkel, garnering support from many CDU heavyweights and has often outperformed Mr Laschet in opinion polling.

The latest polls from Politico reveal the CDU/CSU alliance is ahead with 25 percent of the vote.

Alliance ‘90/The Greens (Grune) is in second place with 19 percent, closely followed by the Social Democratic Party (SPD) with 18 percent of the vote share.

The Free Democratic Party is in fourth place with 12 percent of the vote.

The Alternative for Germany party is in fifth place with 11 percent of the vote, while Die Linke (the Left) has seven percent of the vote share.

However, according to a New Statesman poll, Germans are unsure about who they want to be elected as the next German Chancellor.

A total of 43 percent of those polled said they were unsure about who would be best suited to the role.

SDP candidate Olaf Scholz was the most popular candidate with 23 percent of the vote, while Mr Laschet was the next favourite with 17 percent.

Annalena Baerbock from the Green party with 16 percent of the vote.

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A poll by Forschungsgruppe Wahlen for the broadcaster ZDF, published at the end of July, showed an increase in the proportion of Germans who would like to see Mr Scholz as chancellor (up three points to 54 percent) and a big drop for Mr Laschet (down 12 points to 35 percent).

This was likely a response to a flood gaffe, where Mr Laschet was shown laughing in the background while Germany’s President delivered a sombre statement about lethal floods in his home state.

But the drop in support for the CDU/CSU candidate also speaks to the possibility that voters unimpressed by Mr Laschet, but uncertain about his Green rival, might align with the un-flashy but stolid Mr Scholz.

The Greens enjoyed a surge in popularity but this has dropped off since early May.

Support for the CDU/CSU has also dropped off since widespread flooding hit Germany in July.

By comparison, the SDP has seen an increase in support in the wake of the flooding.

The changes in support for these parties reveals environmental issues are prominent in the minds of German voters and the coronavirus crisis is also deemed to be a fundamental issue.

Immigration which initially helped AfD gain entry in 2017 is now deemed to be less prominent in the face of these other more pressing concerns.

Carsten Nickel, global head of macro at ING, called the German election campaign “a rollercoaster ride for all candidates and parties.”

He told CNBC: “Up to now, these ups and downs have been mainly driven by the popularity or unpopularity and missteps of the leading candidates and not so much by a real debate on content and topics.

“Ms Baerbock and consequently the Greens have been in a free-fall after the surge in spring.

“This fall is closely related to a series of blunders and missteps by Ms Baerbock.

“However, with still more than a month to go a lot can happen.”

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