This post reviews the recent voter intention polls in Germany, the trends over the last 4 years, the loss of popularity of the FDP and the pyrrhic success of the Greens.
The Upcoming Election in Germany: Recent Pools and Likely Outcome
Germany will hold general elections to the Bundestag on Sunday September 22nd. As it stands, the CDU/CSU conservatives remains the strongest party. However, the Liberals from the the FDP are struggling and may not make it through the 5% threshold to make it into the parliament. As a result, the most likely outcome is a CDU-SPD Grand Coalition, given that the SPD and the Greens have ruled out governing with the FDP and that the Greens have also ruled out governing with the CDU/CSU.
Overall, the main shift from 2009 seems to be within coalition shifts, with old FDP votes aparently shifting to the CDU. This is quite interesting considering that in the intervening years the financial crisis did throw a number of other trends into the mix. 2010 and 2011 in particular were problematic year for the CDU and for the FDP. However, while Merkel was able to show a semblance of control over her party and apparently steer the Euro-Zone towards stability, the FDP continuously introduced instability, hinted at euroscepticism and actively campaigned on an austerity agenda that seems to have caused its annihilation at the polls. These attitudes which seem to have been out of synch with the German public added to small but persistent controversies involving claims of nepotism and sexism. Not that the CDU has avoided controversy considering the mess in which Guttemberg had to resign the leadership of the Bavarian CSU.
However, as is highlighted in the figure below, there was a time when the SPD and the Greens looked poised to take over. However that time came and went, probably with the end of the frenzy over the Japanese Tsunami of March 11th 2011 and the nuclear catastrophe that followed it, giving a boost to the Greens in the Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg state elections of March 27th 2011. Since then, and largely due to Merkel’s adoption of many Green causes, the party lost more than 10% of its support, making a left coalition government altogether impossible. Also, this 1980s endorsement of paedophilia will not have helped.
Consequences: Fast-Tracking European Integration?
So far it has been my impression that the FDP has held back Merkel, or at the very best supported her more conservative instincts. However, if the SPD join the government in a new coalition, the opposite will happen. Should Merkel’s instincts be more pro-European than she has let on, then the SPD will liberate to follow through. At the same time, should her instict be conservative on this issue, a rather federalist SPD (examples here and here) will nudge her towards more integration. I’m not expecting full fledged integration just yet, but enough “stealth mutualisation” to last the EU another electoral cycle, conclude the banking union and start making some headway towards fiscal integration.