February 24, 2017
Schulz effect stabilises
Of all the polls in Germany, the ARD/DeutschlandTrend is probably the most noted because it is the one that is broadcast each month on Germany's main TV channel, and because it has a fairly decent track record. And it shows that, for the first time in over ten years, the SPD is ahead of the CDU. Here are the results, but note that the CDU/CSU are still ahead in the three other recent polls.
The two largest parties are polling within the statistical margin of error in each of those polls, which means that they are inconclusive. This is a considerable achievement by Martin Schulz, who has managed to lift the SPD by some 10pp, which in relative terms is an increase of almost 50% from it previous voter base. If you do the electoral math in the ARD poll, you get to a joint SPD/Green/Left vote of 47%, which is just shy of a majority (the other parties have a joint 48%). This gap is within the margin of error as well. This means that an alliance of the left remains, at this point, a statistically possible outcome. With the two large parties polling at around 30%, they would have a comfortable majority for another Grand Coalition, an outcome both will seek to avoid if they have alternative options available to them.
Jasper von Altenbockum offers a good observation about Schulz. With him, the SPD manages to portray itself as a protest party, which is astonishing considering that it has been in power since 1998, except during 2009-2013. Schulz' anti-establishment appeal, and especially his railings against liberal elites and Gerhard Schröder's labour reforms, is directed in particular at voters of the Left Party and the AfD, both of which are now polling lower than they did before. This way he can score points without having to attack Angela Merkel's refugee policy.