Social Democrat candidate tops polls after German election TV debate

Olaf Scholz emerges as front-runner to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor in next month’s election

Ayhan Şimşek   | 30.08.2021
Social Democrat candidate tops polls after German election TV debate


Social Democrat politician Olaf Scholz has emerged as the winner of Sunday’s television debate among German chancellor candidates, just weeks ahead of next month’s parliamentary elections.

According to a snap opinion poll by Forsa, 36% of the viewers declared Scholz as the winner, followed by the environmentalist Green Party’s candidate Annalena Baerbock with 30%.

Armin Laschet, the chancellor candidate of Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU bloc, was seen more impressive by only 25% of the viewers.

During the two-hour-long debate, the candidates covered issues spanning Afghanistan, measures to combat COVID-19, climate change, Germany’s industrial transformation, tax system, and domestic issues.

Scholz, the vice-chancellor and finance minister in the current coalition government, said if Social Democrats win the elections on Sept. 26, they will make every effort for better wages, stable pensions, and affordable housing.

Conservative leader Laschet called on the citizens to vote for the Christian Democrats, to ensure that the country will be governed by a “reliable” and “stable” government in the next four years.

Baerbock sharply criticized her rivals for the government’s failures in Afghanistan and in managing the COVID-19 crisis, noting that Germany needs a "fresh start” with a new government led by the Greens.

- Polls show Social Democrats ahead of Merkel’s bloc

Recent surveys conducted by pollsters YouGov and INSA have shown that the Social Democrats (SPD) gained significant popularity in the last couple of weeks and surpassed the outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU).

The YouGov poll released on Friday showed support for the SPD increased to 24%, up from 16% last month. Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc dipped to 22%, the lowest level of support since the election in 2017. The survey put support for the Greens at 16%.

The latest survey by INSA also found that the SPD has improved its popularity and ousted the CDU/CSU bloc from first place. The poll released on Saturday put support for the SPD at 24%, while the Christian Democrats were polled at 21%. The Greens were 17%.

After 16 years in power, Chancellor Angela Merkel is quitting active politics this year, and the latest polls show that neither her CDU/CSU bloc nor the Social Democrats will get enough votes to govern alone. A continuation of the "grand coalition" between the SPD and the Christian Democrats, or three-way coalitions including the Greens or the business-friendly FDP are among the widely discussed government scenarios.

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