Earlier this week we reported that Germany's default swaps spiked to the highest level since Brexit after a surprising new poll from INSA showed that Angela Merkel's CDU would get only 30% of the vote, while the suddenly resurgent SPD would get 31% of the vote. This means that if the German elections were held today, the SPD's new head, Martin Schulz, would enter any coalition talks as the leader of the largest party, hence becoming Chancellor.
It also means that a SPD-Green-Left coalition would currently win exactly 50% of seats, so that a government without the CDU/CSU could even be possible. In effect, the SPD has gained 10%-pts of support in past two (weekly) INSA polls, taking votes away from all other parties (see chart below). Interestingly, the AfD has also suffered a significant decline.
In any case, the poll appears to have spurred the CDU to take out the proverbial knives, and in an interview with Germany's Spiegel, Merkel's finance minister Wolfgang Schauble said that Martin Schulz is increasingly behaving like U.S. President Donald Trump (presumably the higher the SPD rises in the polls), an attack meant to disparage Merkel's suddenly ascendent challenger due to Trump's precipitously low approval in Germany.
“If Schulz calls upon his supporters to chant ‘Make Europe great again‘ then that’s almost literally [like] Trump,” Schäuble told Der Spiegel in an interview published Friday.
Notably, Schauble accused Schulz - a former European Parliament president where he was the long-time nemesis of UKIPer Nigel Farage - of acting in a “populist way.” Supposedly in polite, traditional Germany, or at least the CDU, that is considered a bad thing.
Schäuble said Schulz needed to “think a little [bit more].” He warned that in times when there is a surge in populist movements, politicians should be careful with their language. Ironically so far Schulz' language, populist or not, is working in his favor, although it is unclear if the recent SPD surge in the polls will continue.
The SPD’s move to nominate Schulz as their candidate for chancellor in the September 24 federal election led to a surge in party membership applications. Opinion polls show that backing Schulz helped the party to its highest approval rating since 2013.
That said, unlike in the US, where the closer Trump got to the election, the more frequent were comparisons between the real-estate billionaire and Hitler, in Germany this particular ad hominem attack against Schulz by his political opponent will likely be problematic.