Scholz still ahead in polls, but Laschet narrows gap in close German election race

Conservative leader Laschet’s CDU/CSU bloc gains 1 point to 23%, Scholz’s SPD stands at 25% in latest poll by ZDF, ahead of elections on Sunday.

Scholz still ahead in polls, but Laschet narrows gap in close German election race

The race between German chancellor candidates is narrowing days before the country’s national election, a new poll showed on Friday.

According to public broadcaster ZDF, conservative candidate Armin Laschet’s Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) gained one point to reach 23%, while Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats (SPD) maintained their lead with 25%, unchanged from last week.

Annalena Baerbock’s environmentalist Greens were polled at 16.5%, with a rise of 0.5 points.

A representative poll carried out by Forschungsgruppe Wahlen put support for the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) at 11%, while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) was 10%, down by 1%.

The anti-capitalist Left Party was polled at 6% in the same survey.

German voters will elect a new parliament on Sunday, and the result will determine who will succeed Angela Merkel as the chancellor, as she is not running for another term.

While Social Democrats’ candidate Olaf Scholz tops popularity ratings, conservative leader Laschet is still hopeful that his conservative CDU/CSU bloc will win the elections, and he will become the country’s next chancellor, as surveys show that many voters are still undecided.

Possible coalition scenarios

Opinion polls show that none of the parties will get enough votes to govern alone, and the winning party’s chancellor candidate will likely face tough negotiations to form a coalition government.

Social Democrats’ candidate Scholz has already announced that they would prefer to form a government with the environmentalist Greens. But recent polls suggest that his party would need a third partner to secure a majority at the parliament, Bundestag.

The liberal FDP has not ruled out a coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens, but the parties have deep differences over a wide variety of issues, including minimum wage and tax increases on the wealthy.

Social Democrats and the Greens have the other option of forming a coalition with the socialist Left Party, but the latter holds extreme positions on the economy and foreign policy matters, raising questions about the stability of a government joined by these three parties.

Neither Scholz, nor the Greens' chancellor candidate Baerbock has so far ruled out this coalition option.

CDU/CSU’s coalition options

If Laschet's CDU/CSU alliance wins the elections, Christian Democrats will also need two coalition partners to secure a Bundestag majority, all the latest polls show.

Laschet views the liberal Free Democrats as a potential coalition partner, as the two parties share many common positions. But their opposition to ambitious climate goals of the Greens remains one of the thorniest issues for the leaders to form a three-way coalition government.

The continuation of the current “grand coalition” between the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats is also a possibility, but senior figures of both parties repeatedly said it is not their preferred option.

The SPD’s youth organization and the party’s co-chair Saskia Esken publicly rejected a new coalition government with the CDU/CSU bloc, and the idea has been hugely unpopular among the party’s base.

Leading members of the CDU/CSU on the other hand are opposing an SPD-led “grand coalition” option, in which the Christian Democrats will be the junior partner.