February 03, 2017
The Schulz effect is getting huge
There is more evidence of a Martin Schulz effect, from another poll, by Infratest Dimap, which now has the SPD at 28%, up from 20% only two weeks ago before there were any rumblings of a Schulz effect. The rise in the popularity of Schulz has partially affected the CDU, which stands at 34%, down from 37%. The other party into which Schulz’ popularity is eating into is the AfD, which according to this poll has lost three percentage points.
As so often, the headline poll results are not the most interesting. The poll revealed that Schulz is more popular than Angela Merkel - which is genuinely new. If there were a direct election, 50% would vote for Schulz against 34% for Merkel. And 50% believe that the SPD should run the next Grand Coalition, while only 39% say the CDU/CSU should.
What these polls are telling us is that we should regard the result of the German elections in September as wide open. It is not a foregone conclusion that Merkel will win. The CDU/CSU’s overall 6pp lead is less than the shift in the SPD’s vote over the last two weeks. As with the French elections, the outcome of the German elections will depend on events that are yet to happen.
It is our view that the polls systematically overestimate the support of the CDU and underestimate the support for the AfD, so that the SPD has everything to play for. Schulz benefits greatly from his lack of participation in the Grand Coalition, thus not being associated with its politics. Through Schulz, the SPD may be able to escape the curse of the junior coalition partner. But his lack of experience of German domestic politics could also prove to be a handicap during the campaign.