German election: Live data tracker

POLITICO's continuously updated guide to party support and funding, key issues and candidates' popularity.

German election: Live data tracker

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).

For more polling data from across Europe visit Poll of Polls.

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.

Key issues

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.

Personality politics

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.

Money matters

Political parties in Germany are 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.

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Meet the EU’s newest president … Van Damme

The commissioners need a long summer break — and there's an obvious stand-in.

Meet the EU’s newest president … Van Damme

Pity the poor stand-in EU president. As revealed in Brussels Playbook this week, the rota for European commissioners to be in charge while everyone else goes on holiday makes grim reading for some of our unelected overlords.

At the time this piece gets published it’ll be Budget Commissioner Johannes “The Wrath Of” Hahn who has the keys to the Berlaymont while everyone else is on a (socially distanced, mask-wearing, pass-the-hand-gel) beach. And Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi must have annoyed Ursula von der Leyen (potentially by the dint of being Hungarian) as he’s got the Christmas shift this year and again in 2023.

Várhelyi wants to swap but there’s little chance of Lithuania’s Virginijus Sinkevičius offering to step in as the youngest commissioner is very much looking forward to Santa coming.

Declassified would like to suggest a change to the Commission’s rules: Allow a Belgian — any Belgian — to take the reins so all the commissioners can have a long summer break.

There’s an obvious candidate: Jean-Claude Van Damme. The Muscles from Brussels would be ideal as the Commission’s summer stand-in. He’s popular, he’s bilingual, and you can even give the security staff time off as he’s hard as nails!

He’s even got experience in a similar role, having starred in “Second In Command,” in which he played the second in command (obviously) at the US embassy in “Moldavia.” So he could even sort out enlargement before the second half of August.

There is one problem, however: In 2011, he went to a birthday party for Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen leader, gnome impersonator and human rights abuser.

Anyhow, the whole scheme might now be off. This week came the news of a massive jewel heist in Paris, which was shocking for two reasons: One, a suspect made his getaway on an electric scooter (a decision that made robbing a store the second worst thing he did that day); and two (and I quote directly from the Guardian because this can’t be improved upon), “potential witnesses at a nearby cafe told Le Parisien they saw and heard nothing. Many were reportedly distracted by the presence of one-time screen hard man and martial arts specialist Jean-Claude Van Damme at the nearby opticians.”

First of all, “one-time screen hard man” is a harsh description of a man who (checks Wikipedia) stars in the action-comedy “The Last Mercenary,” out Friday! And second, if Van Damme’s eyesight is failing, would that prevent him from taking on this important new role?

More on this important development as we get it.


“Is this a good time to point out that I suffer from terrible hay fever?”

Can you do better? Email or on Twitter @pdallisonesque

Last week we gave you this photo:

Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag (there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze).

“And now the prime minister, from his summer residence in Barnard Castle,” by Mike Rogers.

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.

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