Most respondents of the respected Deutschlandtrend survey, conducted by the country’s public broadcaster ARD, spoke in favour of Angel Merkel staying in charge of the German government.
The incumbent chancellor has won the support of more than 75 percent of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) as well as more than half of the self-proclaimed supporters of the Greens, left-wing Die Linke and the Social Democrats (SPD), the poll suggests. However, the majority of the right-wing Alternative for Germany party voters want Angela Merkel out of office as soon as possible.
As for Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, known for his tough stance on asylum policy and earlier conflict over migrant control with Merkel, the balance of votes is reversed. The survey reveals that the majority of self-defined supporters of all German parties, except the AfD, want him to leave his cabinet position; he's already given up the leadership of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union.
As for voters’ preferences, the Greens managed to place second in the ARD poll, with only 3 percent less than the governing CDU/CSU alliance. The environmentalists, whose results surpassed the most optimistic prognosis in the recent regional elections in Bavaria and Hesse, received 23 percent in the survey, which asked the respondents who they would vote for if the national elections were held on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the CDU/CSU scored only 26 points, while its coalition partner, the SPD, received 14 percent, tying with the Eurosceptic populist AfD. The SPD had scored 2 points higher in the previous survey, while support for AfD has surged over the past years.
The growing support of the Greens has stunned netizens. Some are getting ready for a new coalition.
Merkel, who has been CDU leader since 2000 and chancellor since 2005, announced in late October that she would not seek re-election as party leader in December or seek a fifth term as chancellor in 2021, setting a deadline for her exit from German politics.
The announcement came shortly after the CDU suffered a setback in a state vote in Hesse, while its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), sustained its biggest loss in half a century in last month's election to the regional parliament.
However, former German Foreign Minister and former Social Democrats leader Sigmar Gabriel stated that Merkel would resign long before the end of her term in 2021. According to him, the so-called “Jamaica coalition” of the black CDU/CSU bloc, yellow Free Democrats and the Greens would govern the country instead of the incumbent grand coalition with SPD.
Another prominent politician, ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, described Merkel’s move as a mistake, saying the danger of snap elections is looming now. He expects that the vote would take place by the middle of next year, "at least, in early summer" 2019.