Last year’s narrow and divisive election results in Britain’s EU referendum and the US presidential election appeared to have rung in a new era of political polarisation – yet the battle for Germany’s federal election will still be decided on the centre ground, the Guardian reports.
As chancellor Angela Merkel campaigns to be re-elected for a fourth term in office on 24 September, more German voters define themselves as centrists than in any of the European Union’s other six largest states, a survey has shown.
According to the Bertelsmann Foundation’s “eupinions” survey, which questioned 10,755 people across the EU, 80% of respondents in Germany describe their political views as either centre left or centre right, compared with 66% on average across the EU. Only 2% of German respondents said their political leanings were either extreme left or extreme right.
In France, only 51% of respondents located their political views in the centre of the political spectrum. Some 7% of French voters said their leanings were extreme left, 11% described themselves at extreme right.
Last Sunday’s TV debate between Merkel and her main rival, Social Democrat Martin Schulz, had aggrieved some commentators in Germany who bemoaned a lack of confrontation and emphasis on pragmatic consensus-building. “Merkel and Schulz are trapped in a vicious circle of compromises”, wrote Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
But the survey showed the moderating course of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union to be reflected in the attitudes of the voting public.
“Pragmatic centrism remains a historical constant in postwar Germany for now,” said Isabell Hoffmann, one of the authors of the eupinion survey. “German voters are still a lot more reluctant to claim that they are on the left or the right than those in France, where wearing your political colours on your sleeve is a matter of good manners.”