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Germany's opposition flying high in polls

March 3, 2023

A monthly survey of German voters finds they still support Ukraine but are disenchanted with the three-way coalition government. Ahead of International Women's Day they are lukewarm on the new feminist foreign policy.

Olaf Scholz in the Bundestag Chancellor Olaf Scholz SPD delivers a government statement one year after his so-called turn of the times speech during the session of the German Bundestag on 02 03 2023 in Berlin
One year after the war in Ukraine began, Chancellor Olaf Scholz's government is losing supportImage: Christian Spicker/IMAGO

What could be the conditions for ending the war in Ukraine? That's what the pollsters at infratest-dimap asked 1,311 voters in their February 2023 Deutschlandtrend survey. A large majority of 73% said Ukraine should decide for itself whether and when to enter negotiations with Russia. This decision is not up to the country's allies in the United States or Europe, they said. Supporters of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock's Green Party are especially of this opinion (83%).

Only a minority of Germans (35%) believe that Ukraine should consider ceding territory to make a peace deal with Russia. Only supporters of the far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) beg to differ: Some 64% of them think Ukraine should consider giving up a part of its territory.

Germans are worried about the impact of the war on their own lives. 58% said they fear that Germany could be drawn into the war, while 69% believe that Germany's economy will deteriorate further.

There has been a lot of controversy, especially in the past week, over the issue of weapons deliveries to Ukraine. On the anniversary of the outbreak of war, thousands of people took to the streets in demonstrations for and against arms deliveries. Some 47% of respondents to the latest survey said they believe Germany's arms deliveries to Ukraine are appropriate — but 53% also say Germany's efforts to end the war have not gone far enough.

The defense minister takes on a prominent role in times of war. For the past month and a half, this has been the Social Democrat Boris Pistorius, whom most citizens did not even know before he took office. With his hands-on, open manner, determination, and good rapport with the troops, Pistorius has managed to move to the top of the popularity ranking of German politicians: 52% of Germans surveyed are satisfied with his work. He is followed by the two Green Party politicians Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (47%) and Economy Minister and Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck (41%). Only 38%, meanwhile, say they are satisfied with the work of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The German chancellor has been traveling a lot these days and is currently in Washington for talks at the White House.

Both Chancellor Scholz and Foreign Minister Baerbock want to realign German foreign policy and are looking for allies since Russia is no longer a viable partner. There is also growing skepticism about Germany's economic dependence on China — even though the country has just put itself forward as a possible mediator in the Ukraine war. When asked to name the most trustworthy partner in the world, 59% of Germans said the United States, with Ukraine second with 47%, followed by India with 33%. China was named as an important foreign policy partner by only 8% of those polled.

Center-right opposition CDU/CSU gets a boost

The center-left coalition government of Social Democrats, Greens, and neoliberal Free Democrats has lost support since they took office in December 2021. One-third of those polled said they were happy with the government's performance, while two-thirds are critical. The opposition center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and its regional Bavarian partner, the Christian Social Union (CSU), are

clearly benefiting from this: They have gained four percentage points to reach 31% voter support. But all three parties in the governing coalition have suffered losses in support: The SPD is down to 18%, the Greens to 17%, and the ailing FDP would also lose another percentage point and come in at only 6%.

The parties at the ends of the spectrum, meanwhile, are polling almost the same as they did one month ago, at 14% (-1 point) for the AfD and 5% for the socialist Left Party (+1).

Equality: Germany still has a long way to go

This week, Foreign Minister Baerbock presented her concept for a "feminist foreign policy."

The date for the presentation of the guidelines that are to ensure equality and diversity was carefully chosen to be just a few days before March 8, International Women's Day, which is intended to draw attention to the unequal treatment of women worldwide.

But in Germany, gender equality is still more of a dream than a reality: According to the Federal Statistics Office, women in this country earn on average 18% less than men. Women are also at a clear disadvantage when it comes to providing for old age (77%) and when it comes to the burden of caring for relatives (69%). The majority of men agree, but opinions between men and women differ widely when it comes to the position of women in management positions. 61% of the women polled said women face a career disadvantage — but only 47% of men agreed.

This article was originally written in German.

While you're here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing.

Volker Witting Volker Witting has been a political correspondent for DW-TV and online for more than 20 years.
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