May 31, 2016
Grand Coalition below 50%
The Insa polls, as reported by Bild, tend to register the lowest support for the grand coalition parties in Germany. We find them useful because they seem to register shifting trends earlier than others - although we have no idea whether the actual numbers are reliable. What is special about the latest poll is that the grand coalition has fallen below 50% for the first time ever.
There is nothing magical about 50%. Because "others" have 5.5% - and are not represented in the Bundestag - the 49% joint vote of CDU/CSU and SPD still translates into a majority if the two parties decided to form another coalition. But we should get used to not calling them "grand" any longer. We would also like to recall that the grand coalition currently has 80% of the seats in the Bundestag. This is because neither the FDP nor the AfD managed to surpass the 5% voting threshold last time. For this reason alone, the 2017 elections will bring big political change. This means, for example, that the new Bundestag is going to be far less likely to agree debt relief for Greece than the old one. There would be a majority for debt relief today - as the SPD and the Greens support it. But it is far from clear whether such a majority will exist in the new Bundestag, as both AfD and FDP would vote against it - as would parts of the CDU/CSU.
For the SPD and CDU/CSU, these are historic low points. We expect the trend to continue for now - though they might recover ahead of the elections. We would not exclude the possibility that the AfD could end up with a larger share of the vote than the SPD - though the party is always at risk of imploding: the party leader, Frauke Petry, is under investigation over making false claims under oath, and her deputy has over the weekend outraged the nation with a statement that nobody wanted to live next to Jerome Boateng, the German footballer. If the CDU/CSU falls below 30%, we would assume that Angela Merkel's leadership becomes an issue for debate in the party.
Here is the latest Insa poll: