German Coalition Loses Ground in EU Election, Exit Polls Show

The governing coalition of three parties is performing worse than its conservative opposition and the right-wing AfD.

Germany’s governing coalition faced a setback in Sunday’s EU parliamentary election, trailing behind the conservative and the right-wing Alternative for Germany, according to projections.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s center-left Social Democrats (SPD) garnered around 14% of the vote, a decline from their 2019 result of 15.8% and marking their worst performance in decades, based on early forecasts from ZDF and ARD television, utilizing exit polls and partial counting. 

The center-right main opposition, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU), are predicted to secure first place with approximately 30% of the vote.

The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) is projected to come in second with around 16%. The ultra-conservative eurosceptic party has advocated for curtailing arms deliveries to Ukraine and ending sanctions against Russia, calling for peace talks. Despite multiple scandals during the election campaign, their support has increased by almost 5% over the past five years.

The remaining members of Scholz’s “traffic light coalition,” the environmentalist Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP), are estimated to receive around 12% and 5% respectively, signifying a substantial decrease in support from recent years.

Under the current coalition government, Berlin has faced rising energy costs and the risk of recession, following the escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the repercussions of sanctions imposed on Moscow. Meanwhile, green lobbying led to the closure of Germany’s last three nuclear power plants in April of last year. The IMF has projected Germany’s GDP to remain stagnant this year, with an estimated growth of 0.2% in 2024.

Meanwhile, the left-wing Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW), a party formed by Wagenknecht and former Left Party politicians less than a year ago, has managed to secure approximately 6% of the vote. The BSW has leaned towards a left-wing economic policy, but similar to some conservatives, has advocated against uncontrolled migration. In the run-up to the EU elections, Wagenknecht cautioned against further escalation of the Ukraine conflict and allowing Kiev to use Western arms in cross-border strikes, urging the West to “stop playing with fire.”

Germany, the largest member state among the 27 members of the EU, currently holds 96 seats in the European Parliament. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is a member of the CDU, which is part of the largest European People’s Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament.