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Merz Overtakes Scholz As Pref. Chancellor; Both Still Unpopular Choices


Chancellor Olaf Scholz is grappling with declining opinion polling ratings amid the continued inability of the federal gov't to reach an agreement on the 2024 budget. Opinion polling by Wahlkreisprognose in late Nov showed 19% of respondents preferred Scholz as chancellor compared to 29% for leader of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Freidrich Merz. This is the first time since preferred chancellor polling for this parliament began that Merz has outperformed Scholz, albeit with 52% of respondents claiming they preferred neither man.

  • Scholz's declining support comes as the federal coalitionstruggles to come to a consensus on the 2024 budget. Reuters: "The failure of crunch talks between coalition leaders before Wednesday means it is unlikely parliament will approve a 2024 budget by the end of the year, leaving in limbo spending plans from climate projects to benefits and for local authorities.... coalition sources have told Reuters that little progress was made overnight and the parties were still far apart."
  • Finance Minister Christian Lindner from the pro-business liberal wants to plug the EUR60bn hole in the federal budget (created by a Constitutional Court ruling regarding off-budget climate funds) with spending cuts. The environmentalist Greens want the debt brake suspended for another year, with a commitment to investment in climate projects and green transition, while Scholz's centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) will be loathe to agree with Lindner's plans to cut welfare payments.
Chart 1. Preferred Chancellor Polling, % and 4-Poll Moving Average

Source: Wahlkreisprognose, Forsa, INSA, MNI

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