Against the backdrop of relatively high poll numbers for the AfD, CDU leader Merz has once again clearly spoken out against cooperation with the party. © Sebastian Christoph Gollnow/dpa
The traffic light Leid is currently only the AfD Freud'. The Union, on the other hand, does not benefit from the discontent of the citizens. CDU leader Merz has his explanations for this – but may be falling short.
Berlin - In the polls nationwide persistently ahead, a state election this year already won and the best prospects with the two still to come, the own ranks closed as for a long time - so it is going with the CDU and CSU? No, not really.
Because there is another, less pleasant development for the Union: At the moment, only one party is benefiting from the growing dissatisfaction of citizens with the policies of the traffic light coalition: the AfD. While it is rising steadily in the polls, the Union is literally stuck to the 30 percent mark.
In the latest ARD "Germany Trend", the AfD climbed by two points to 18 percent, putting it on a par with the SPD for the first time. The CDU/CSU slipped down one point to 29 percent. The development in the latest Insa survey for the "Bild am Sonntag" is similar: Here, too, the AfD gained one point and ended up tied on points with the SPD at 19 percent. The Union also lost one point here and still came to 27 percent.
Those responsible for the far-right CDU and CSU see the reasons for the success of the far-right party in the traffic light coalition: "A weak and constantly arguing government triggers counter-reactions. With the AfD, citizens can miss violent reminders," wrote CDU chairman Friedrich Merz last weekend in his newsletter "MerzMail".
Merz: Union is held responsible for the state of the country
But why don't the dissatisfied turn to the Union? "We, too, are held jointly responsible for the state of the country – and the mantra of the traffic light that it must finally clean up what has been left there for 16 years is catching on with many voters," Merz replied. And: If the Union then takes opposing positions to the traffic light, it will quickly be confronted with the racism club and the accusation of a shift to the right. "Such a narrowing of the climate of opinion again only pays off in the AfD, and so the traffic light nourishes this party twice."
As far as the state of the coalition is concerned, the polls seem to prove Merz right. While 79 percent of those surveyed in the ARD "Deutschlandtrend" were less or not at all satisfied with the work of the federal government, the figure was 98 percent among AfD supporters. At the top of their list of reasons were immigration and migration (65 percent) and energy, environmental and climate policy (47 percent).
Findings on the ZDF "Politbarometer"
What must give the CDU food for thought: The citizens apparently do not trust it with any greater problem-solving competence than the traffic light. This was evident in the latest ZDF "Politbarometer", in which only 22 percent assumed that a government led by the Union would do things better. 25 percent even expected that it would get worse then, for 48 percent there would be no difference. And another question arises: Is Merz the right man? In both the ARD and ZDF surveys, the 67-year-old ranks only 6th in the popularity and satisfaction ranking.
The CDU and its chairman must be dizzy when looking ahead to the coming year. In autumn 2024, new state parliaments will be elected in Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia. In all three countries, the AfD could become the strongest force, as the polls show. For example, the CDU and AfD are tied in Brandenburg with 23 percent. In Saxony, the AfD is three points ahead of the CDU with 28 percent. And in Thuringia, the AfD's lead over the CDU is even clearer at 28 to 21 percent.
It has been a long time since Merz brashly declared war on the AfD: "I dare to halve the AfD - that's possible." That was in November 2018, when Merz applied – unsuccessfully – to succeed Angela Merkel for the CDU presidency. Today, the sentence from him can no longer be heard, all the louder for a strict demarcation, as just now in the "Heute Journal" on ZDF: "We have nothing to do with these people, and there will be no cooperation here - under the hand, above the hand, on the table, under the table with me and not us."
The CDU, like the other parties, can be given hope by the fact that only 32 percent of those surveyed in the "Deutschlandtrend" said that the AfD would be an option for them in elections because they were convinced of it. 67 percent justified this with disappointment with the policies of the other parties. This group may be won back by a different policy, says political scientist Jürgen Falter. Brandenburg's CDU state chairman Jan Redmann appealed to his party on Monday: "The CDU is called upon at all levels to fight more passionately for its ideas." dpa