Buyer’s Remorse? Germans Unhappy with their Choice but Support a Jamaica Coalition

Steve Szabo

Stephen F. Szabo

Senior Fellow

Dr. Stephen F. Szabo is a Senior Fellow at AICGS, where he focuses on German foreign and security policies and the new German role in Europe and beyond. Until June 1, he was the Executive Director of the Transatlantic Academy, a Washington, DC, based forum for research and dialogue between scholars, policy experts, and authors from both sides of the Atlantic. Prior to joining the German Marshall Fund in 2007, Dr. Szabo was Interim Dean and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and taught European Studies at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. He served as Professor of National Security Affairs at the National War College, National Defense University (1982-1990). He received his PhD in Political Science from Georgetown University and has been a fellow with the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the American Academy in Berlin, as well as serving as Research Director at AICGS. In addition to SAIS, he has taught at the Hertie School of Governance, Georgetown University, George Washington University, and the University of Virginia. He has published widely on European and German politics and foreign policies, including. The Successor Generation: International Perspectives of Postwar Europeans, The Diplomacy of German Unification, Parting Ways: The Crisis in the German-American Relationship, and Germany, Russia and the Rise of Geo-Economics.

A first post-election poll published by Forschungsgruppe Wahlen reveals three important findings regarding the German public’s assessment of the choices they made in the Bundestag election.

  • General dissatisfaction with the results of the election:
    • 66% of Germans polled are displeased with the results of the vote compared to only 28% who are pleased. This compares to the 41% displeased and 55% who were pleased after the 2013 election.
    • All party voters were displeased except for Alternative for Germany (AfD) voters.
  • The is widespread support for a Jamaica coalition:
    • By a margin of 59% to 22%, Germans support this coalition. This is in contrast to pre-election preferences, when a Grand Coalition between the SPD and CDU/CSU was the preferred option.
    • Support was strong across those who voted for the potential Jamaica coalition with CDU (72%), FDP (84%), and Greens (78%).
    • Two-thirds of SPD voters support the decision to go into opposition and only 23% of all voters would prefer another Grand Coalition.
    • 78% of all voters expect a Jamaica coalition.
  • If the election were held today, the results would be almost exactly the same as the results in September.
    • However, only 23% believe the AfD has a long-term future in the Bundestag and 60% of all voters oppose cooperation with the AfD.
    • There is a growing belief that there is more to divide than to unite eastern and western Germany (50% to 45%) and majorities in both east and west believe the problems of unification have not been solved.

Even though the election was a major defeat for Angela Merkel, she remains the most popular political figure in Germany and the clear choice to remain chancellor.  Other winners in the popularity stakes include Christian Lindner of the Free Democrats and Cem Özdemir of the Greens, while the big loser is Martin Schulz, the SPD party chair, at least for now.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American-German Institute.