Northern test is next for Merkel and Schulz

One month tomorrow, on 7 May, 2.8 million citizens of the north German state of Schleswig-Holstein will elect a new regional parliament – in the second of three such votes before September’s national parliamentary election. Today’s Infratest dimap poll for regional broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) is therefore timely.

Snug against the Danish border, Schleswig has usually played a peripheral role in Federal German politics, but all eyes will now be on the state to see if the Saarland regional result last month was a one-off outcome or part of a broader positive trend for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU.

This is only the second regional opinion poll in Schleswig in 2017 (and only the seventh since 2012). It shows the CDU has recovered three points from its 27 per cent score recorded on 16 March. The SPD, which governs in Kiel in coalition with the Greens and the Danish minority SSW, is static at 33 per cent. However it should be noted that these scores are the SPD’s best in the state during the current five-year term. The Greens have fallen two points to 12 per cent, echoing their dip in national opinion polling.

Across the board what is striking is how close the parties’ voting intention scores are to the last election result back on 6 May 2012. With one exception (see chart), all are within 3.6 points of their 2012 scores – in a survey with a quoted margin of error of between 1.4 and 3.1 percentage points.


Chart by Visualizer


That exception is of course the populist Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), which is contesting its first Schleswig-Holstein election – this is one of the few regional parliaments it has yet to enter. Absent are likely to be the Pirates, who gained 8.2 per cent and six seats in 2012, but are now barely registering in the polling.

The full research from Infratest dimap gives some important clues to the likely election outcome. As in Saarland previously, the current state premier Torsten Albig (SPD) enjoys high personal ratings, with 51 per cent saying they would choose him over the CDU’s Daniel Guenther (25) were the position to be directly elected (24 say ‘Don’t Know’). Tellingly that includes 27 per cent of CDU supporters, along with 38 per cent of AfD backers and 62 per cent of Green adherents. On another key question, 58 per cent are ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with Albig’s work.

His administration scores less well, however, on local policy questions. The regional coalition has net negative scores on education, transport, agricultural and crime issues. The interplay between state factors, national considerations and personalities is likely to be crucial on 7 May.


Voting intention for Landtag, per cent
(change on 16 March poll in brackets)

Social Democrats (SPD) 33.0 (nc)
Christian Democrats (CDU) 30.0 (+3.0)
Greens (Die Gruenen) 12.0 (-2.0)
Free Democrats (FDP) 9.0 (nc)
Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) 7.0 (nc)
Left (Die Linke) 4.0 (nc)
Suedschleswigscher Waehlerverband (SSW) 3.0 (nc)
Others 2.0 (-1.0)

Fieldwork: 30.03-04.04.2017. Published: 06.04.2017. Participants: 1002. Method: Telephone poll. Full survey on the NDR website.


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