For anyone interested in the German elections, here are the most recent opinion polls in Germany. There is a surprising lack of polls carried out in the last few days – presumably there isn’t any law against them, since Forsa have managed to put one out with fieldwork carried out midweek.

Date CDU/CSU FPD Green SPD The left
Forsa 24/09/09 33 14 10 25 12
YouGov 24/09/09 34 11 10 27 11
Allensbach 21/09/09 35 13.5 11 24 11.5
GMS 17/09/09 36 13 11 25 11
Forschungruppe 17/09/09 36 13 10 25 11
Infratest 17/09/09 35 14 10 26 11
Emnid 16/09/09 33 14 10 25 12
INFO GmbH 15/09/09 34 12 10 27 12

At the last German elections in 2005 the polls performed very poorly – showing CDU leads between 7 and 9 points, when they ended up leading by only 1 point. Let’s see if they’ve done any better this time round.

UPDATE: Prior to the election the German electoral commission made a great fuss about the risk of people leaking exit polls on Twitter, which frankly is asking to become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Amusingly though, with twenty minutes to go Twitter is now flooded with lots of people posting contradictory fake exit polls.

22 Responses to “Election Day in Germany”

  1. Every single national and state elecyion in Germany since 2005 except Hamburg in 2008 has seen CDU/CSU perform worse than the opinion polls indicated .

  2. It looks like it’ll be extremely close. First exit polls are due out at 5pm British time.

    My understanding is that in order to win a German election a party/coalition has to win an absolute majority of all votes cast excluding those votes which go to parties that fail to poll 5%. It looks like about 5% of the vote will go to such parties, which would mean 47.6% is required to win. (I know there is a slight complication with so-called ‘overhang’ seats).

  3. From my perspective, Die Linke and NPD are the interesting ones to watch. I admire the Germans protesting with the radical left rather than the radical right; I guess it comes down to who they blame for the crisis – greedy capitalists or johnny foreigner.

    I am suprised the SPD reject going into coalition with Die Linke – surely they depend on this type of party in a PR system.

  4. Die Linke contains members who have left the SPD as well as ex-communists. No wonder they’re not keen on hooking up again.

    Looks to me like the result will be either a repeat of last time’s grand coalition or possibly a CDU/FDP alliance, as during the 80’s.

  5. There is a small chance that the party/coalition receiving the most votes might not win the election due to the overhang seats I mentioned earlier. If that happens, there could be some interesting developments in Germany in the next few days and weeks.

  6. Remarkably uniformity from all the different pollsters. Not something we get in the UK. Wonder if it’s just coincidence, or whether in some way political polling is easier or more homogeneous than in the UK?

  7. Looks like exit polls show Merkel will be able to ditch the Social Democrats, with 48% for Christian Democrats and Free Democrats.

  8. Mark – our polls tend to be very uniform in the final polls before the general election too. Some people find this suspicious!

  9. The German pollsters’ over-estimation of the two main parties’ share of the vote seems to have continued in this election.

  10. Looks like the CDU have done okay in this election and FDP done somewhat better than the opinion polls suggested: Merkel’s going to be able to dump the SDP.

    This is odd (politics is usually odd) because a few years ago the FDP seemed to be struggling to get about 5% after a previous period of success.

  11. OK, the first results appear to show that (from a polling perspective) the pollsters have not overestimated the CDU/CSU (much) and underestimated the SPD. They will feel vindicated in their assessment that what happened in 2005 and 2002 was a very large change of heart and nothing to do with faulty polling.

    YouGov (are they new in germany?) seems to have overestimated the SPD most. Could it be that YouGov did assume that in 2002 and 2005 the low SPD figures were (at least partially) the result of many on SPD-inclined voters not giving a preference in the opinion polls but then turning up at the election anyway, and that the same would happen this time again?

    (Personally I expected the same to happen, too, that is a few % lower than the polls and SPD a few % higher, but I’ll have to eat my words now.)

    Looking at the election results, this is the first election since 1994 that the centre-left parties (SPD, Greens, Linke) combined vote is below 50%.

  12. Worth noting actually – to remove SPD – that Greens and Linke have improved their result; this site always is inclined to have too many right wing comments.

    Linke (old left) and Greens have 20 % + of German votes- and their results are increasing. Merkel may win, and SPD are down, but that’s because SPD are centrist – say New Labour – and their votes have gone to the leftwing. Over 1 in 5 Germans vote for parties which don’t get a real look in this country. Interesting…

    Even more interesting will be the results rather than exit polls…

  13. ‘Despite her huge personal popularity, she led her centre-right Christian Democratic Union to its second poorest result, taking a projected 33.5% of the vote, two points down on 2005. It leaves her vulnerable to backstabbing within her party.’

    Guardian’s comment; for those wanting to try and make it into a rightwing triumph

  14. Off-topic but there is a new ComRes on the front page of the Independent

    Con 38 (-2) Lab 23 (-1) LD 23 (+2)

    Hat-tip James Burdett at

  15. Electorally it may not be a rightwing triumph, but in terms of practical politics it is.

    It’s a bit like saying Labour’s third term wasn’t a real victory because their vote fell to the mid-30s.

  16. “Guardian’s comment; for those wanting to try and make it into a rightwing triumph”

    The FDP are a right-leaning party. They’re more pro free-market than the CDU. The FDP-CDU vote is greater than the SPD-Left-Green vote.

  17. I always expected the FDP to outpoll their poll figures by a point or so as their haute-bourgeois electorate come out better as the turnout falls – to 72% according to Phoenix TV (the German political junkies channel – if you speak German I recommend going straight to their live stream).

    Germany has moved from a two-and-a-half-party system to a five party system and there’s a lot more room for parties outside the big two to grow. All three ‘small’ parties had the benefit of being in opposition at a difficult time, and all got record results. The FDP’s result, for examples, breaks a record of 12.8% that had stood since 1961.

    The new coalition’s majority will be padded by overhang seats, which have become more and more important as two-party dominance has declined. However, the current system of apportionment has been ruled unconstituional, and from the next Federal election a system of ‘equalisation seats’ will probably be introduced to ensure the overall national result reflects the party list vote as closely as possible.

    The overall result is hardly a surprise, with the CDU-FDP majority closing in the final weeks but ultimately just holding. But there’s lots of interesting stuff for the nerds underneath, of which the points that strike me instantly are:

    * The decline of the CSU in Bavaria – apparently down to 41%, which parallels last year’s state elections.
    * The “Pirate Party”, following their Swedish success, polling 2% – more than the far right – with no money, coverage or organisation; they will now get state funding and will be an interesting repository for protest votes in state elections to come.
    * Did the FDP make a genuine breakthrough (as they claim and state election results over the past few years would to some degree support)? Or did they simply ‘borrow’ CDU/CSU voters who wanted to make sure the Grand Coalition was finished, as the CSU in particular claim?

    The first big test for the new government are the state elections in North Rhine Westphalia next May. This is as close to an SPD stronghold as there is these days – they only lagged the CDU by 5% there today. It could also be a chance for a the CDU-Green experiment which seems to be governing well in Hamburg, and has worked well in a number of city councils particularly on the Ruhr, to be tried out on a bigger stage.

  18. Re overhang seats – German TV are now calling 26 CDU overhang seats and 1 for the SPD. 10 alone come from Baden-Wurtemmberg, where the SPD are weak but both the Greens and the FDP are particularly strong; the CDU have won all but 1 of the first past the post seats there with little more than a third of the party list vote.

    Another point about Bavaria and the CSU – half of the total losses for the CSU/CDU coalition tonight came from Bavaria; this builds on 2005 where Merkel’s generally good performance across the country, especially in the traditionally Socialist big northern states, was undercut by a CSU collpase in Bavaria. I don’t think Merkel is the person who’ll be feeling the heat for this!

  19. Good news.

  20. For those arguing a rightwing triumph – a tendency on these pages –

    ‘Yesterday’s election was a disaster for the Social Democrats, who polled a mere 23.1 per cent of the vote, their worst general election performance since the founding of post-war West Germany. Die Linke (“The Left”) – the successor organisation to the former East German Communist Party – mopped up a large chunk of those votes, taking a record 12.4 per cent.’ (Independent)

    Try arguing against a 12% vote in the UK for the ex communist party – a new high and equivalent for the Greens. Overall Merkell’s party didn’t do well- it dropped % compared with the last vote- overall it and the business party won with less than 50%; nor did the SPD the mild left.

    Both centrist left and right lost votes to the extremists on the right and left (Business party / Greens and Linke)–Germany is actually splitting down the middle and leaking votes to the extremes. A worrying tendency…

  21. The election was an absolute disaster for the SPD, no mistake. Still, they had a few disasters (electoral and otherwise) in the past (split in 1914, decisively beaten by the Nazis 1933, bad losses 1953&1957) and recovered. On the other hand, so far they are handling this badly: Believe it or not, on election night Muentefering (SPD leader) said he wants to stand again when the biannual election for the leader’s position and the executive come up in November. Steinmeier (SPD candidate for chancellorship) now want to lead the parliamentary party, i.e. become opposition leader. Their arrogance is not short of Brown and we-can-win-this Mandelson.

    As other have notd, Merkel’s result is nothing to shout about.Her majority is reasonable good thanks to the overhang seats, but these will be gone by the next election, so she has her work cut out.

    Not only the FDP had their best result ever, so had the Greens and the Left. The left are actually the strongest party in two Laender (Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt). In only two Laender do the CDU and SPD together get more than 60% (Lower Saxony and Northrhine-Westphalia). In Berlin they get 43% between them.

    There were also two Land elections in parallel with the Federal election. The interesting one is the one in Brandenburg, where there were big differences between the Federal result and the Land result: SPD 33% Land and 25% Federal, Linke 27% and 29%, CDU 20% and 24%. In other words, the SPD state First Minister Platzeck is quite popular. He might well be get the leadership (again).

  22. German voters are reasonably smart about ticket splitting between state and federal elections and have been for some time. Kurt Beck, the popular SPD state president of Rhineland Palitanite always delivers state results massively ahead of the Federal poll figures for the SPD there; Günther Oettinger does the same for the CDU in Baden Wuertemberg and for years during the Kohl years Johannes Rau produced comfortable SPD overall majorities in NRW at state level while the state split pretty evenly between the big two parties at federal level. Pietzeck is building on Manfred Stolpe’s years of personal popularity as SPD State PM in Brandenburg. Along with Merkel, Stolpe was one of the first easterners to gain credibility as a serious politician with voters on either side of the old inner-German border.

    And why not? That’s the point of federalism isn’t it?