Angela Merkel and her Christian Democrats have lost the mantle of being Germany’s most trusted and authoritative leaders. And in their place, a nascent left-wing movement is rising.
According to RT, German politician Sahra Wagenknecht, the leader of the Left in Germany’s Bundestag, has surpassed Merkel in the latest survey carried out by the authoritative INSA pollster for Germany’s Focus magazine, beating her by three points in a poll that asked Germans to name which politician they felt best represented their interests.
This is an important category in German political polling, and Merkel’s slide isn’t a new development. Her popularity started to shrink during the refugee crisis in 2015 when she proclaimed that Germany would have an “open door” policy for asylum seekers.
Merkel’s CDU has suffered politically from this decision, and has come up short in several local and national elections since.
On the other hand, Wagenknecht became popular last year when she started a new political movement called Aufstehen (‘Stand Up’), which she says aims to be a voice for workers across Europe. The new left-wing movement champions workers’ issues, while also calling for limits on migrants who come to Germany to work.
Wagenknecht’s growing popularity is the latest problem for the CDU, which is struggling to redefine itself for the post-Merkel era. Merkel’s one-time anointed successor, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, came up short in the poll, placing 18th on the list. Often dubbed AKK, Kramp-Karrenbauer stepped into the spotlight last year when she was tapped as Merkel’s successor, though a conflict with the Chancellor this year has soured their relationship and left AKK’s future uncertain. AKK has also succumbed to several gaffes that have harmed her popularity.
On the CDU’s other flank is the right-wing AfD, or Alternative for Deutscheland, which surged from nothing to win top positions in regional elections in the state of Thuringia last month. Though the AfD’s leaders didn’t rank too high on Focus magazine’s latest poll.
Still, this is just the latest warning for Merkel and her party: If they hope to hang on to power, they’re going to need a new plan.