Free voters hit poll high after affair
The Aiwanger case apparently did not harm the Free Voters – on the contrary. The trend in the surveys is clearly pointing upwards at the moment. Many observers agree on why this is the case.
After the affair surrounding their chairman Hubert Aiwanger and an anti-Semitic leaflet from his school days, the Free Voters are at least temporarily on a high in Bavaria polls. A month before the state elections, three survey institutes have now determined values of 15 and 16 percent for the party. Including a ZDF political barometer published on Friday with 16 percent. The CSU under party leader and Prime Minister Markus Söder had to accept its lowest poll number in more than a year and a half with just 36 percent.
If there were a state election next Sunday, the Free Voters would be tied with the Greens in second place, according to the survey by the Elections Research Group. Behind them are the AfD with 12 and the SPD with 9 percent. The FDP is at 4 percent in this survey, so it has to worry about getting back into the state parliament. However, according to the survey, 43 percent of those surveyed are not yet sure whether and who they actually want to vote for. In the 2018 state election, the CSU received 37.2 percent, the Free Voters achieved 11.6 percent.
The political scientist Ursula Münch sees the reason for the free voter survey results as a mixture of increased awareness and solidarity effects. “It was foreseeable that there would be a solidarity movement,” she told the German Press Agency. The Free Voters’ accusation that Aiwanger is the victim of a campaign appeals to many people, including CSU supporters. “Many people now say that this was exaggerated.” But it is still unclear whether this will ultimately be reflected in the election results.
Apology and counterattack
CSU boss Markus Söder said: “These are currently fever curves of solidarity.” With a view to the extensive reporting on Aiwanger and the ever-increasing allegations from his school days, he said: “There was a sense of solidarity where people, many in Bavaria, said, is this an appropriate way of dealing with someone?”
Two weeks ago, Aiwanger denied in writing that he had written an anti-Semitic leaflet when he was at school, which the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” had reported on. Rather, his brother accused himself of being the author. As a result, more and more allegations were made about Aiwanger’s previous behavior. After several days he apologized, but at the same time counterattacked and complained about a political campaign against him. But Söder is sticking with him: He rejected a dismissal as “not proportionate”. The CSU and Free Voters want to continue their coalition after the election.
The Passau political scientist Heinrich Oberreuter told the German Press Agency about the rise of the Free Voters: “Many people are afraid of the future, are worried about social decline – and have the feeling that they are not getting any answers to their feelings and their fears from the established parties , not even from the classic opposition. The Free Voters and Hubert Aiwanger benefit from this, who gives many the impression that he is close to people’s everyday concerns.” The affair has now made people even more aware of the Free Voters.
“And the more you get the impression that you want to push Aiwanger into a certain corner, the more some people follow him,” said Oberreuter. “According to the motto: He is close to us, he understands us – and now he is being defamed and pushed into a right-wing corner. Aiwanger has firmly rejected the most unsavory accusation of the affair, namely that he had written the leaflet.”
“Thank you,” Aiwanger wrote several times on X
The Free Voters also recently saw two other surveys at 15 and 16 percent respectively, each with an increase of four points compared to previous surveys by the respective institutes. There was recently no ZDF political barometer on Bavaria. “Thank you,” Aiwanger recently wrote several times on X (formerly Twitter).
The CSU had to cope with worse survey results than the current 36 percent at the turn of the year 2021/22. According to reports, there was initially no major unrest this week. One sees the cause solely in the Aiwanger affair – and assumes that if Aiwanger is fired, the Free Voters will rise even further, perhaps up to 20 percent.
According to the Politbarometer, a majority of 63 percent of Bavarians also believe it was right for Söder to leave the economics minister in office. 29 percent of all respondents said the decision was incorrect.
In principle, election surveys only reflect opinions at the time of the survey and are not predictions of the election outcome. They are always fraught with uncertainties. Among other things, weakening party ties and increasingly short-term voting decisions make it more difficult for opinion research institutes to weight the data collected. The Elections Research Group states the statistical error tolerance as follows: The error range is +/- three percentage points at a proportion of 40 percent and +/- two percentage points at 10 percent.