CDU and SPD tie twice as Lower Saxony vote nears

In a dramatic polling turnaround, two surveys in the last 24 hours have shown CDU and SPD tied in Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), where regional elections will take place on Sunday 15 October. The contrast with three polls carried out in the state in August is stark – these gave the CDU leads of 12, 8 and 8 points respectively.

The neck-and-neck situation risks putting an end to the Christian Democrats’ run of regional victories this year, which has seen wins in Saarland, Schleswig-Holstein and Nordrhein-Westfalen. It is a sign of just how weakened Angela Merkel’s party is now, after a heavy vote loss in the Federal elections a fortnight ago.

Elections in the state had not been due in January 2018, but were called early after the collapse of the ruling SPD-Green coalition, following the defection of a Green MP to the CDU. Until very recently the momentum had looked to be clearly with the latter party.

The SPD is not making enormous strides in these latest polls: rather it is CDU support that is falling. One beneficiary is the liberal FDP (Free Democrats), who are no doubt profiting from their successful Federal campaign and high media profile in speculation about national coalition talks.

In both these polls the left-wing Die Linke is flirting with the 5 per cent barrier for gaining seats in the Hannover regional parliament. At the January 2013 election Die Linke scored just 3.1 per cent.

The Greens will be disappointed to be lingering below 10 per cent of voting intentions, having won 13.7 per cent back in 2013. The drive towards a ‘Jamaica’ coalition involving the party at national level does not yet seem to be translating into a noticeable effect in the opinion polls. As a result, a repeat of the outgoing Red-Green coaltion in Hannover would not be possible if these polling figures are reflected at the ballot box.

However, with the wider political picture in Berlin in a state of turmoil, the final week of the Lower Saxony campaign could be full of changes. The extent to which local voters choose to send a message to the national politicians is perhaps the biggest unknown quantity. Another is the role that local party leaders will play in the closing days: the SPD’s outgoing state premier Stephan Wall is rated far more highly than CDU counterpart Bernd Althusmann according to both FG Wahlen and Infratest dimap (49 to 29 per cent and 45 to 24 per cent prefer Wall as state leader) and this could prove decisive for the outcome.


Voting intentions, Niedersachsen Landtag, per cent

Christian Democrats (CDU) 33.0
Social Democrats (SPD) 33.0
Free Democrats (FDP) 10.0
Greens (Die Gruenen) 9.0
Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) 7.0
Left (Die Linke) 5.0
Others 3.0

Fieldwork: 02.10-05.10.2017. Released: 05.10.2017. Participants: 1083. Method: Telephone poll. Media partner: ZDF. More details here.


Voting intentions, Niedersachsen Landtag, per cent

Christian Democrats (CDU) 34.0
Social Democrats (SPD) 34.0
Greens (Die Gruenen) 8.5
Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) 8.0
Free Democrats (FDP) 8.0
Left (Die Linke) 4.5
Others 3.0

Fieldwork: 02.10-04.10.2017. Released: 05.10.2017. Participants: 1002. Method: Telephone poll. Media partner: ARD. Full report here.


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