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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Germany's anti-euro party may still yet make it into the Bundestag

Don’t think the German elections are a done deal – and, in particular, don’t rule out Germany’s anti-euro party, Alternative für Deutschland.

Though Merkel’s CDU/CSU is doing well the polls – as has been noted – her party could still flunk this one. German election surveys are notoriously  unreliable – and in the past, the polling figures for the CDU/CSU in particular, have tended to be higher than the actual election results. The central scenario for the new German government is still definitely a CDU/CSU-FDP coalition. However, a grand coalition of CDU/CSU-SPD is very much on the cards. If the FDP fails to get into the Bundestag, we could even be looking at a SPD-Green coalition – but that’s still unlikely.

The thing to remember is that the share needed to secure a majority in Bundestag isn’t the same as overall support in the polls, as the votes below the 5% threshold  parties need to win seats in the Bundestag will be dropped, while some seats are actually first past the post. So it’s not all that straightforward.

One interesting question, though: will Alternative für Deutschland shock Europe and make it into the Bundestag? A Forsa opinion poll for RTL/Stern today put the party on 4% .

This means we’re very close to a scenario where AfD is in and FDP is out. The assumption so far – including initially from us – was that AfD would struggle to get above 5%. Its window would instead be the European Parliament elections (without 5% threshold and possibly following a series of tough decisions in the Eurozone). However, we’re not confident of that any longer. Before the Italian elections, we predicted that Beppe Grillo’s (at least semi anti-euro) Five Star Movement would do better than many assumed. Deja Vu?


First, there are a huge number of swing voters swirling around Germany – over 30 per cent are undecided according to some polls, with one recent one even claiming 72 per cent. We literally have no idea where all these votes will go, but they could prove favourable for AfD. They could, of course, also go against the party.

Secondly, polls can easily underestimate the strength of  a new, protest party – as in the case of Grillo. Online polls tend to put AfD higher than polls conducted over the phone, suggesting that voters are still embarrassed to actually admit publicly, and to pollsters, that they'll vote AfD. German polls aren’t actually that great at predicting outcomes, for various reasons.

Now, AfD won’t do a Grillo  - who absolutely exploded onto the scene. However, a lot more sensational things have happened in politics than AfD landing a spot in the Bundestag.

We won’t call this one either way.


Unknown said...

From outside looking in(im from England)i hope the afd gets in to shake things up a bit,Merkel has had it good for far to long.Time for someone else to shake europe up a bit!

Rik said...

1. AfD looks lucky just short before the election:
a)the 'attack' by the lefties;
b)Schauble bringing Greece up again and the rest of the parties following him in that;
c)now the youth wing of the Pirates and the Greens.
The good thing for AfD is that things like a) and c) by lefties/the great unwashed are very likely pretty positive for AfD. The potential voters of AfD are very likely organic soybean eater phobic.
Similar to Blair getting in the news pro a Syria attack. Simply works counterproductive.
Times that what people now see as legitimate worries (Euro, mass uneducated immigration) could be put away by calling them racists is long gone even in Germany. Where the populist wave started very late.
Anyway AfD is again pretty tame in selling these things.

If they would get in and/or the FDP would not things will get really interesting. Both are however still unlikely to happen btw.

Anyway they still have some way to go. There might be a dark vote positive. But there also likley will be a strategic voting negative. A lot of people will like to keep Steinbruck out and traditional FDP voters might reconsider to give their party a second chance. Seen the polls both could have a considerable influence as both these issues are rather close.

If they would get in and/or the FDP would not, things will get really interesting. Both are however still unlikely to happen btw.
-FDP out Merkel would not get a majority on the right. Only option coalition with a lefty (or a fully left government);
-AfD in, similar no Merkel/FDP majority, with AfD being the Kingmaker if the 2 sides refuse cooperation with each other. More or less forcing Merkel going for SPD or start a coalition including AfD.
The only real EU gamechancer will be AfD in. The rest will hardly change anything. The wild ideas of the SPD/Greens will be dropped when they realise they need a referendum for that. Hard to see even them being so stupid to go for an Eurobond referendum in which they will get the backsides kicked.

Anyway if the thing doesnot fall apart next EP election will likely put AfD on the map. And put the other parties likely under pressure.

The accusations that polls are reducing AfD results look a bit weird of course. But not as weird as one would expect at first sight.
The other main poll institute has its director admitting that she doid a similar thing with the Republicaner (a somewhat dodgy rightwing party). Pretty stupid to admit that btw.
Plus the head of Forsa has stated that it is difficult to calculate the AfD support. Not dodgy but mentioning a professional issue.

Rollo said...

Since the Germans have really got 2 main choices, both of whom have voted for the same policies in Europe, and both of whom are equally out of touch with public opinion, I would certainly not rule out a surge by AfD

Anonymous said...

The only poll that matters is the one that elects real people, Merkel has clearly been bothered by the growth of this party though as even she is talking about repatriation of powers from brussells.

Anonymous said...

Der Spiegel (slightly Merkelite) is as good a source as any other.

It notes that previous polls have overestimated Merkel's popularity.

It notes that AFD are heading for the 5% threshold and the FDP are also just likely to make it.