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Survey high: Why the AfD can benefit


Satisfaction with the federal government falls in GermanyTrend to a low. The AfD is growing. The constant argument in the traffic light should be one reason – but the Union also plays a role.

Anyone who speaks to AfD MPs in the Bundestag these days often sees very satisfied faces. Above all, the fact that the party has now overtaken the Greens in polls is clearly a source of satisfaction – many in the AfD consider them the number one enemy and the Green Minister for Economic Affairs Robert Habeck is responsible for the country’s economic decline propagated by the AfD.

The open dispute in the traffic light coalition over Habeck’s building energy law is exploited by the AfD all the more with pleasure – similar to the other opposition parties. “Controversy dominates this so-called traffic light,” says AfD co-chairman Tino Chrupalla in a recent party podcast. “It really is a government that could not have been worse.”

Several traffic light projects are due to go through parliament before the summer break – but there are disagreements.

Germany trend: AfD reaches new high

A government from whose condition the AfD can obviously benefit more and more: in the current one ARD Germany trend the AfD comes to 18 percent in the Sunday question and is thus in second place with the SPD, behind the Union with 29 percent. The majority of AfD supporters state that they are currently opting for the AfD primarily out of distance and disappointment with the other parties.

This does not surprise the political scientist Michael Koß from the Leuphana University of Lüneburg. He sees this effect already in the coalition itself: “The core problem with the traffic light is that the SPD, Greens and FDP simply have little in common. If there is a crash, as we are currently experiencing, the AfD can go and say: ‘The Established parties all deviate from their demands anyway and mess up – and for the AfD, at least in the polls, things are going up again.”

According to the ARD Germany trend, only one in five is satisfied with the work of the government.

Migration the most important topic for AfD supporters

In fact, the AfD has been steadily increasing in surveys for several months. However, it is not only the ongoing inflation or high energy prices that seem to give the right-wing populists a boost, but also the renewed debate on how to deal with refugees: two-thirds of AfD supporters justify their party preference in the new ARD Germany trend primarily with immigration. For them, attitudes critical of immigration are by far the most important.

In the search for explanations for the rising poll numbers of the AfD, experts not only refer to the fighting traffic light coalition, but also to the Union. The CDU and CSU are shifting the public discussion to the right, they say. For example, if they – like the AfD – adopt the term “heating hammer” coined by the “Bild” newspaper for Habeck’s building energy law. Or speak of an “Energy Stasi” for the planned collection of heating data for municipal heating planning, like Thuringia’s CDU leader Mario Voigt.

The AfD is currently doing well in the polls. And this despite the fact that the party is becoming more and more radicalized.

“Union walks a very fine line”

For political scientist Koß, the Union is walking a very fine line: on the one hand, such rhetorical exaggeration is part of the opposition’s trade. “On the other hand, of course, there is always the danger of making the original palatable to voters. And the original is always the AfD, despite all the rhetorical racket that the Union throws.”

In this context, however, Koß also questions the strategy of the FDP, which is currently trying to prevent things in the traffic light coalition rather than promoting its own projects: “The FDP has managed to crawl away from the five percent hurdle a bit, but of course the price is huge.” In view of the rising poll numbers for the AfD, the liberals should consider whether their own gains were not bought at too high a price, the political scientist points out.

With its communication on a list of questions on the heating law, the FDP caused confusion.

Polls are not election results

But polls are not election results, they know that in the AfD too. Even if, in view of the high figures of well over 20 percent in East Germany, one is already openly dreaming of participating in the government at state level – due to the lack of possible coalition partners, this is currently not a realistic option.

Whether and to what extent the AfD can still gain favor with voters, especially in West Germany, could also depend on the further appearance of the Amp coalition at federal level. In Hesse, the AfD was last at 11 percent, in Bavaria at 12 percent. In both countries there will be elections in autumn. That should be a first, important test – beyond all surveys.