After plummeting to a historic low of 26% before the corona crisis, the conservative CDU/CSU Union is currently polling on at least 34% (and as high as 38% in one poll) in an extraordinary turnaround.
The government’s handling of the crisis is widely supported, with 72% approving. This is true of supporters of all parties except the far-right Alternative for Germany, the majority of whom (61%) disapprove. 93% of all surveyed at the beginning of April by Infratest dimap approve of the social distancing regulations and two-thirds were confident that the health system could cope.
Satisfaction with the government has boosted the CDU/CSU Union at the expense of the smaller parties which had previously been doing well.
The government coalition partners, the, SPD are not benefitting so much from the increase in satisfaction with the government — only 16% of those polled would vote for them, not much change from a month ago. Its leaders, Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken still have a low profile. Infratest dimap found that only 41% know who Walter-Borjans is.
The far-right Alternative for Germany has been left floundering during the crisis. From polling at around 15%, the party has dropped to around 10%. It has flaunted its disdain for the social distancing regulations, failed to produce any coherent policy response and continued to criticise the government – not popular in times of crisis.
After a meteoric rise after new leaders Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock were elected in January 2018, the Greens were in a comfortable second place in the polls, with 22-23%, and preparing for government a month ago. However, some polls have put them as low as 18% recently.
All the major figures handling the crisis are receiving high approval ratings.
The infratest dimap poll gave Merkel an approval rating of 64% (+11). Her revival as a calm crisis Chancellor is being widely praised in the media. The Spiegel summed up opinion when it wrote, “the Crisis Chancellor is back.” The Berliner Morgenpost argued that, “There is no trace of the ‘twilight of the Chancellor’ ….careful, waiting and without any desire to really explain herself. Let me do it. That’s Merkel.”
SPD Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who quickly delivered a 1.2 trillion economic rescue package, is the only SPD politician with improved approval. His rating in early April was 63% (+17 compared to last month), only one point lower than Merkel.
In March, three men were the frontrunners to be the Unions’s next chancellor candidate: CDU leadership contenders, Armin Laschet and Fredrich Merz, and Markus Söder, CSU Minister President of Bavaria. Since then, Söder has shot up into the lead with 30%. A Welt article argued that, “In the Corona crisis, he embodies like no other the strong state that leads citizens with determination and at the same time relies on their insight.” Infratest dimap found that he had approval ratings of 58% (+16).
Health Minister Jens Spahn surprised many in February by choosing not to run as CDU leader, but to run instead as deputy to Merkel loyalist Armin Laschet. He now has approval ratings of 60% (+9) and a recent Welt survey put him in second place with 21% (+10) as far as the CDU’s next Chancellor candidate is concerned.
In the Welt survey about who should be the next CDU/CSU Chancellor candidate, Armin Laschet came third with 20 percent – he was in the lead in a month ago.
Sick with the corona virus, Friedrich Merz has naturally had a very low profile in the last few weeks. Now, only 12 percent of those surveyed would like Friedrich Merz to be Chancellor candidate.