A year ago, the AfD was still at 10 percent nationwide. Now she draws level with the SPD in a survey. There are various explanations for the high flight.
When looking for the cause of the current AfD poll high, opinions differ. Saxony-Anhalt’s Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff (CDU), like CDU leader Friedrich Merz, sees government policy as crucial. “The constant disagreement in the traffic light is a template for populists,” he told the “Bild am Sonntag” (“BamS”). The federal government must again make policies that reach the people. “There’s a war in Ukraine, and we take care of trivialities like gender-sensitive language. That’s absurd,” said Haseloff. He also criticized the ongoing discussion about the planned heating law.
The deputy parliamentary group leader of the ruling party SPD, Dirk Wiese, also sees a reason here: “The very high values for the AfD are also due to the debate on the Habeck heating law,” he told the “BamS”. As an SPD in particular, you have to provide citizens with a workable, ideology-free and affordable draft.
Greens also see the Union as responsible
The first parliamentary director of the Greens parliamentary group, Irene Mihalic, called on the coalition to unite: “The traffic light coalition must find its way back to its ability to act and stop arguing publicly.” But she also blamed the CDU and CSU for the AfD survey high: “The Union should be aware that copying the AfD’s inhuman positions pays into the account of the original.”
FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr does not believe that a dispute at the traffic light is decisive for the development. “It is good and right that there are clear differences between the democratic parties. Only then do people have a real choice.” One should not fall for the story of the AfD, all democratic parties wanted the same thing anyway.
AfD on par with Chancellor Party SPD
If there were federal elections this Sunday, the AfD could count on 18 percent of the votes, according to the current ARD “Germany trend”. Together with the chancellor party SPD (also 18), it would be in second place behind the CDU and CSU (29). The AfD has only reached such a value once, in September 2018.
The “Germany trend” also revealed that only one in five people is currently satisfied with the work of the traffic light coalition, which is the weakest value since the coalition began. There are various attempts to explain why this is the case.
Explanation attempt 1: dissatisfaction
“The AfD benefits on the one hand from the concern of a growing number of citizens about the extent and consequences of migration and on the other hand from fear about the costs of the government’s energy and climate policies, with many AfD supporters not understanding the need for the measures proposed by the coalition,” said Mainz political scientist Jürgen Falter of the dpa.
In the “Deutschlandtrend”, two-thirds of AfD sympathizers stated that they wanted to vote for the party because of migration policy, and almost half named energy policy. Issues such as inflation or social affairs were far behind.
Many who are currently in favor of the AfD are “simply disappointed” and are increasingly losing confidence in democracy and its institutions, CDU General Secretary Mario Czaja told the newspapers of the Funke media group. “This is mainly due to the great uncertainty caused by the traffic light with its leadership-less chaos policy, be it with the heating, with the health care or with the issue of immigration.”
His CSU colleague Martin Huber told the “Augsburger Allgemeine” that the traffic light “goes miles past the reality of people’s lives” and unsettled “the population with its crowbar policy”.
Explanation attempt 2: traffic light dispute
When politicians and parties argue, it doesn’t go down well with voters, poll experts like to point out. And there has been a lot of arguing at the traffic lights for a few months now. Above all, the Greens and FDP are at odds with each other when it comes to the Building Energy Act with specifications for the installation of new heating systems.
SPD presidium member Michael Roth advised the coalition on Twitter to see themselves “again as a team”, to argue internally and to solve problems. He also called on the Union not to hit it “populistly” and appealed to the media to contribute to “objectification”.
The Greens see it similarly. They have invited the CDU and CSU to join them in opposing the AfD. The federal director of the party, Emily Büning, thinks: “The current polls are a warning signal and a mandate for all democratic parties. We invite the Union to join us in fighting the enemies of democracy.” In the end, the AfD, “which spreads uncertainty for its own purposes and plays with fears,” benefits most from populism, blame and disputes,” argued Büning.
Explanation attempt 3: Escalation drives voters to the AfD
Some blame the Union parties for the growth in the AfD. The theory: If the CDU and CSU treat the traffic lights with harsh words or converge on AfD positions on issues such as migration in order to win back voters, that only strengthens the right-wing themselves.
“Tagesschau.de” quoted the Lüneburg political scientist Michael Koß today. In his view, “there is of course 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 uses.”
CDU MP Philipp Amthor rejected such considerations on the Welt channel: “The CDU is not responsible for the strengthening of the AfD, it is the fault of this lousy federal government.” His party colleague Norbert Röttgen, on the other hand, wrote on Twitter: “The Union should also ask itself critically why we are practically not benefiting from such great dissatisfaction with the government.”
Explanation attempt 4: More AfD voters out of conviction
Meanwhile, the AfD went into the weekend in a jubilant mood: 18 percent was just the beginning, AfD co-boss Alice Weidel tweeted on Friday. “Our promise in case of government participation: We take back the green madness laws,” she added.
According to its co-chairman Tino Chrupalla, the AfD, which has been classified by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution as a suspected case of right-wing extremism, is “not just a protest party”. Rather, he sees a trend that “more and more citizens are choosing us out of conviction,” he told the Funke newspapers.
However, in the “Deutschlandtrend” only a third of the AfD supporters stated that they wanted to vote for the party out of conviction, two thirds cited disappointment with the other parties as the reason. Political scientist Jürgen Falter sees opportunities here: the latter group could possibly be won back through a different policy, he said.
The AfD has particularly good values in the east of the country. In surveys in Brandenburg, for example, it was 23 percent, in Saxony 26 percent and in Thuringia 28 percent. New state parliaments will be elected in all three federal states next year.
Further survey sees AfD on par with SPD
In another survey, the AfD can draw level with the Chancellor’s Party SPD. According to an Insa survey for “Bild am Sonntag”, the party could get 19 percent (+1) of the votes if there were federal elections this Sunday. This is the highest value that the opinion research institute Insa has ever measured for the AfD, according to Bild.de. Just as many respondents would therefore choose SPD (-1).
The CDU and CSU are ahead with 27 percent (-1). Greens and FDP remain unchanged compared to the previous week at 13 and 9 percent. The left can increase by one point to 5 percent.