New German government sees decline in opinion polls | Germany | In-depth news and reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW


“Where’s Olaf Scholz?” This is a question that has been circulating on social networks in Germany since the beginning of the year.

Whether it’s the arms shipments to Ukraine, the diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in China, the debate over the introduction of a blanket vaccination mandate to fight the COVID pandemic, or measures against runaway inflation figures – the Chancellor seems almost invisible, his statements seem vague.

This negatively impacted his approval ratings in pollster Infratest Dimap’s latest poll, in which 1,339 people across the country were interviewed by phone (876) or online (463) between Jan. 31 and Jan. February 2.

Only 43% of respondents say they are satisfied with Chancellor Olaf Scholz. A month ago, this figure was still 60%.

But it’s not just Scholz himself who gets bad marks. His entire party, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), is losing voter support – and significantly so. For the first time since the federal elections last September, the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) of former Chancellor Angela Merkel and their regional partners, the Christian Social Union (CSU), are once again enjoying support the stronger.

However, the approval ratings of the SPD’s two smaller coalition partners, the Green Greens and the business-oriented Free Democrats (FDP), remain unchanged.

Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) and Vice Chancellor and Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Green) also lost support, while Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Green) saw her popularity rise.

The current tensions in the Ukrainian conflict pose enormous foreign policy and security challenges for the new government. Some 54% of respondents see the situation as a threat to Germany. But at the height of the Ukraine crisis in 2014 and again in 2017, when Russian-Ukrainian tensions erupted again, Germans were even more worried.

Chart showing lack of support for arms deliveries to Ukraine

The majority of respondents side with the German government and oppose arms deliveries to Ukraine, and only 43% favor economic sanctions against Russia. Respondents were divided on whether NATO should provide security guarantees to Russia. There is more sympathy for Russia in eastern Germany, the part of the country that until 1990 was the communist East German GDR and a staunch ally of the government in Moscow.

57% of respondents said they believe the Nord Stream 2 pipeline should start operating and should not be on any sanctions list. The project, initiated by former SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder 20 years ago, has been completed and is awaiting approval from the German authorities. It has long been criticized by governments in Eastern Europe and the United States, but Chancellor Scholz only recently indicated that it would not start working if Russia invaded Ukraine.

Green Party supporters are the most critical of the project, which overall enjoys significantly more support in eastern Germany than in the west.

Chart showing Nordstream 2 support in West and East Germany

Support for the pipeline is due to rising energy costs in Germany. Half of all respondents, especially those with low incomes, fear that a shortage of gas supply will drive prices up further.

The best way to fight the COVID pandemic remains a priority. Although infection figures continue to rise dramatically, the dreaded impact on hospitals has so far failed to materialize. As a result, calls for an easing of COVID restrictions are also increasingly heard in Germany.

While 31% of respondents consider the current requirements excessive, 22% would like them to be strengthened, while 44% consider the measures appropriate. A clear majority favors mandatory COVID vaccination, while a third strictly opposes it.

Graph showing preferences on introduction of vaccine mandate

More than 80% of supporters of the SPD, CDU/CSU and Greens are in favor of compulsory vaccination, the opposite is true for supporters of the far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) where skepticism vis-à-vis the vaccine is particularly high. Large numbers of neoliberal FDP and Socialist Left Party voters also oppose a blanket vaccination mandate.

Pollsters also learned that the 24th Winter Olympics in Beijing were of little interest to Germans, with less than 20% saying they were interested or very interested in the event.

Many have a problem with the venue: 66% say the decision to award the Winter Games to China was a mistake. They cite human rights concerns and political repression, environmental impact and COVID regulations as causes for concern.

Graph showing the lack of support for the Winter Olympics to be held in China

This article was originally written in German.

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