Germans vote in a general election on September 26 that will decide who succeeds Angela Merkel as chancellor and becomes Europe’s most important leader.
POLITICO is tracking data on party support, key issues, candidates and political donations — factors that will all have a bearing on the outcome of the election.
The following charts are updated daily with the most recent information to give a live snapshot of the state of the race.
Tracking the polls
Even a well-conducted poll can be misleading if interpreted in isolation. To create a more robust measure of political opinion, POLITICO’s Poll of Polls amalgamates a set of quality polls on German voting intention into a single estimate of national election sentiment. That dilutes the impact of outlier results and shows trends in party support more clearly. (For more information on the methodology behind Poll of Polls click here).
Which parties will form the next German government? Estimating exactly how many MPs each party will get — and how many will be needed for a majority — is not easy due to Germany’s complex method of allocating seats. That method means even the total number of seats in the next parliament is uncertain. But some pollsters are bold enough to project seat numbers for each party — and the threshold for a majority.
What’s driving those overall trends in voting intention?
Parties can benefit if voters think they have a strong response to an important issue: For example, the surge in voter concern over migration in 2018 was correlated with a poll hike for the far-right AfD party. Likewise, higher support for the Greens in 2019 came at a time of increased concern over climate change.
Unsurprisingly, polling by FG Wahlen indicates that the coronavirus shot to the top of voters’ concerns in March last year and has stayed high ever since. But it has dropped significantly since April this year as the crisis eased, with climate change increasing in importance even before the devastating floods across parts of Germany in mid-July.
In Germany, the chancellor is not elected directly by the voters, but by the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag. Its composition will be determined on election day.
But many voters will of course be thinking about who they see as the best candidate to lead the government. Polls asking voters which candidate they would pick if they could choose a chancellor directly give a good indication of the strength of the candidates, and whether they are a help or a hindrance to their parties.
Political parties in Germany are less dependent on donations from individuals and corporations than in some other countries as they also get significant income from state funding and membership fees. Nonetheless, big private donations can help give them an edge in election season.
By law, only donations larger than €50,000 must be registered with the German parliament “immediately.” Smaller donations only become public after about two years in the parties’ financial reports.
POLITICO scrapes data on large donations from the German parliament’s website as it becomes available, presented in the charts below.
It’s worth noting that in previous campaigns, smaller donations boosted the budget of parties such as the SPD and the Left party, so they’re likely on a stronger financial footing than the data below suggest.