In four weeks, on 24. September, the new German parliament will be elected. What do the campaigns of the parties look like, but  most important of all: how are the chances and prospects for a policy change? After giving an overview of the current ratings in context of the given political situation, we will introduce the campaigns of the parties most likely to enter parliament and give you a quick insight in our campaign, its aims, issues and presentation.

Preconditions – polls and political situation

Polls of the last weeks show that despite the Conservatives remain strongest force (38-40 percent) they are rated below the figure they gained at last federal elections in 2013 (41.5 percent). Even though they have overcome the low point during the peak of the refugee crisis they cannot reach approval rates of August 2015 (43 percent).
Nonetheless, everything indicates that Angela Merkel will take her fourth term as Chancellor.

Similarly, the Social Democrats are rated close to their former results between 23-25 percent (2013: 25.7 percent). By January, ratings threatened to sink below the 20 percent mark. That they were able to keep the ratings up was mostly due to the nomination of former President of European Parliament Martin Schulz as candidate for chancellor at the beginning of this year. It boosted their all-time low up again by 12 percentage points. Yet after the hype, they arrived at their former ratings of around 24 percent.

Schulz' chances of becoming chancellor are quite low. His options, according to the polls, are more likely to either become federal minister and vice chancellor if the Social Democrats form a coalition with the Christian Conservatives, or become opposition leader.

Polls see DIE LINKE at around 8 to 9 per cent, pretty close to their results of 8.6 percent in 2013. If approval rates remain stable, there is a high chance that the party will again become third strongest force in parliament. The prime candidates, parliamentary group leaders Sahra Wagenknecht and Dietmar Bartsch, form DIE LINKE top team together with party co-chairs Katja Kipping and Bernd Riexinger.
The Greens, currently only 0.4 percent behind DIE LINKE are predicted to get around 7 to 8 percent. Assuming that Liberals and AfD will enter the parliament as well, this would put them at the fifth or sixth position. According to polls, the Greens seem to have lost half of their voters within the first half of this year. They compete with two prime candidates, parliamentary group leader Katrin Göring-Eckhardt and party chair Cem Özdemir.

The Liberals will most likely re-enter parliament after their huge loss in 2013. Two thirds of their voters turned their back on them and for the first time they had to exit federal parliament. Since 2016, they are rated above the five percent threshold, currently rated at 8 to 9 percent.
Prime candidate, 38 year old Christian Lindner assumed the office as party chair after federal elections 2013. The super election year 2017 so far went very well for the Liberals. Since end of June they are part of a coalition with Conservatives and Greens in Schleswig-Holstein. In Northrhine-Westphalia they achieved their best ever result in that state with 12.6 percent.

The other party likely to enter parliament is the rightwing populist AfD (Alternative for Germany). Until summer 2015 their ratings remained at around 4-5 percent. The intensifying migrant surge in 2015 and 2016 helped approval for the party to grow considerably. By the end of 2016 some polls saw the party clearly above 14 percent.
Receding migrant numbers, internal party conflicts as well as the “Schulz effect” resulted in a decreased interest in voting for the party, yet, their ratings are still at a worryingly high 7 to 10 percent. Their two prime candidates are Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland.


Everything remains the same for the Conservatives. A guarantor for victory? The campaign is high-quality and reliable. Since party and candidate are way ahead of their closest contender their main concern is not to make any serious mistakes. Merkel is currently busy with foreign policy issues by which she can raise her profile without angering voters with internal policy decisions. The main issues are family, labour, security and order, as well as a strong economy and Europe.
Claim: Für ein Deutschland, in dem wir gut und gerne leben (For a Germany we live well and like to live in)

The Social Democrats bank on social justice and Schulz.
Shortly, the attempt of establishing contender Martin Schulz as a new brand, seemed to be successful. Now, though, not much is left of the hype since the popstar image the Social Democrats tried to put on the rather tame candidate, was not convincing. Their main issues during the campaign are education, pensions, labour and family policy.
Claim: Zeit für mehr Gerechtigkeit (Time for more justice)

The Liberals, clearly determined to re-enter parliament mainly rely on their prime candidate, 38 year old Christian Lindner. The campaign is modern and vivid. The coverboy optic of the recent one clearly stands out from former campaigns. Lindner makes the Liberals appear as a “smart choice”. Wether the one person strategy works will be seen in September. The image of the party has completely changed. Lindner stands for the renewal of the party, also regarding its outward appearance. The campaign, besides depicting the complete election programme and the main candidate focusses on the issues digitalisation, security, economy, and education.
Claim: #Denkenwirneu (#LetsThinkNew)

The Greens decided to keep their posters in their own colour and let the words speak for themselves. They explicitly set out to run for third position in parliament. Their focus lies on environment, climate, Europe, integration, and social policy. Claim: Darum Grün (Therefore Green)

The AfD banks on populist and provoking motifs in its campaign. It is not as radical as many feared, yet the usual issues are addressed: refugees are told not to expect a better life here and Islam is not a religion welcome in Germany. The general focus is exclusion. A poster, depicting party chair Frauke Petry with her newborn child was supposed to make the party seem “nicer, more sympathetic and humane, more female but not softer”. Yet, it garnered critique of Petry instrumentalising her child. There are no political solutions offered, yet the stance becomes unmistakebly clear.
Optically, the motifs are rather conservative thus appealing to the target group of the party. Apparently, there was some dissence in the party top, since prime candidate Alice Weidel considered the motifs – contrary to her colleague Alexander Gauland – too radical and national conservative.

See here for an overview of all parties' posters:
DIE LINKE diverted from the 2013 campaign when the posters were held in the colours black on white together with the red logo. The current approach is more colourful.
Eye catching words such as Children, Peace, At home, or Just dominate the posters. They take up the mood in the country and express in a clear way our established issues peace, wages, rents, social fairness and tolerance.
Our claim: Keine Lust auf Weiter so (approximately: Don’t feel like continuing with the current policy) is depicted on the billboards.

The campaign has a clear message: We have no interest in a continuation of the policy of the great coalition of Christian Conservatives and Social Democrats which only administers social problems instead of solving them. Instead we want to increase the interest in social justice and peace. That is illustrated by our eight main posters and the top team of the two parliamentary leaders, Sahra Wagenknecht and Dietmar Bartsch, and party chairs Katja Kipping and Bernd Riexinger.

DIE LINKE on tour and on stage

Starting today with an opening session in front of the head office with General Manager Matthias Höhn, a Die LINKE truck will travel across the country from 26th August to 23rd September. The top team will be on stage in 52 towns all over the country accompanied by the district candidates.

These events are supposed to get our policy close to the citizens, announcing our views and aims and help promote the public exchange.

Additionally many other smaller and bigger public events take place culminating in the final campaign event two days before elections in Berlin. After that everyone gathers energy for the last 48 hours to give it their all in distributing flyers, and reminding people to vote on election Sunday.

Summary of Manifesto for federal elections 2017
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