Political Overview Merkel and Schulz disagree on Syria, agree on Greece, polls stable, Obama in Berlin

Chancellor Angela Merkel called US President Donald Trump in support of the recent US strikes in Syria. A day later, Ms Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, added that its was Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s use of chemical weapons to blame for the escalation. Germany would use all its resources to support UN efforts to solve the conflict. Also Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) voiced support for a diplomatic solution, calling the US strikes “comprehensible”. The SPD chancellor candidate Martin Schulz chose harsher words. In an op-ed, he warned of a “confrontation between superpowers” resulting from the US strikes; the EU should involve herself more. Most voters side with Mr Schulz: only 26% of respondents supported the strikes. Also on Eurozone economics, Mr Schulz aims to align with voters, suddenly calling Grexit a possible option, and refusing to promise an end of Ms Merkel’s authority policy. Meanwhile the fiscal hawk and Federal Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble embraced French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron.


Greece’s membership in the Eurozone is dependent on “the extent that reforms will be implemented” by Athens. “We also have to ask ourselves, which mistakes we — as the so called free west — have done in the past. … Now a military confrontation between the super-powers Russia and the US is looming.”

On 6 April, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny visited Ms Merkel, discussing economic cooperation and Brexit. Ms Kenny called peace in North-Ireland “fragile”; German voters worry less: 76% (+20) believe the economic damage for Germany will be little, only 18% (-16) that it will be large. On 10 April, Ms Merkel met the heads of OECD, IMF, World Bank, WTO and ILO in Berlin for the 9th time. Together, they discussed the global economy, trade and Germany’s G20 Presidency.

National polls see Ms Merkel in the lead again by eight points compared to Mr Schulz (48% to 40%). Party-polls are stable: The SPD scores 32% (+/-0), CDU 35% (+1), the far right AfD 9% (+/-0), The Left 8% (+/-0), the Greens 7% (+/-0) and the FDP 5% (+/-0). When asked about favoured coalitions, most favour a continuation of the current grand coalition (49%), second comes CDU/CDU/Greens (31%), third an SPD/Greens/Left option (24%), with the options including the FDP scoring 21-23%. On policy, 47% of respondents find migration to be the most pressing issue, while social justice ranks second, scoring 13%. Problematically for the SPD, only 17% of respondents think the party is competent on migration, while the CDU scores 39%. On social justice it’s the opposite case, with the SPD scoring 39%, and the CDU 20%.

On campaign personnel, Minister of the Chancellory Peter Altmaier (CDU) will be responsible that his party profits from that: By volunteering for the election campaign, he will support his party’s General Secretary Peter Tauber. Mr Altmaier will mostly be responsible for drafting and strategy tasks, while Mr Tauber will remain head of organisational issues. FDP vice chair Wolfgang Kubicki nevertheless saw a constitutional breach: A member of the executive would not be allowed to do party politics. Ms Merkel meanwhile landed the first campaign scoop: On the occasion of reformation’s 500 year anniversary, she will discuss democracy and civil engagement with President Barack Obama in Berlin on the same day as Mr Trump begins his Europe tour. Ms Merkel and Mr Trump will meet shortly after at NATO and G7 respectively.

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