German chancellor’s popularity at record low
Nearly half of Germans are dissatisfied with Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s performance, a recent poll has revealed. According to the survey, the German head of government’s popularity is at its lowest point since he was sworn in, last December.
The survey conducted by German pollster Insa and commissioned by newspaper Bild am Sonntag indicated that some 49% of the respondents are not satisfied with how Scholz is handling the top job. According to Bild am Sonntag, this is the lowest level of approval the incumbent chancellor has had since he took office on December 8, last year.
38% of the Germans polled said they were happy with Scholz’s performance. As for the coalition government currently at the helm in Germany, it has failed to live up to the expectations of 55% of the respondents, while the remaining 35% approve of it.
To measure the public’s attitude, the researchers surveyed 1,002 Germans last Thursday.
A more recent survey carried out by pollster Civey for media outlet Der Spiegel between April 17 and April 19 showed that only 25% of Germans consider Scholz a strong leader. 42% of the respondents said they thought the chancellor lacked the qualities of a strong leader, while an additional 23% leaned toward the same assessment.
Der Spiegel noted, however, that Scholz was still relatively popular among supporters of his Social Democratic party (SPD), with 65% of people in that group approving of the chancellor's performance.
This poll is based on the opinions of 5,065 Germans.
The outlet put the apparent slump in Scholz’s popularity down to the chancellor’s refusal to provide heavy weaponry to Ukraine. The article concluded that the German leader came across as too hesitant, both to his political opponents and to large sections of society in general.
Speaking on Tuesday, Scholz insisted that Germany could no longer supply Ukraine with weapons from its military stocks, for fear of depleting the Bundeswehr’s own reserves to the detriment of the country’s defense capabilities. Instead, the chancellor vowed to facilitate direct contacts between Kiev and German weapons manufacturers as well as to “provide the necessary money for the purchase.”
Initially, Berlin refrained from shipping military equipment to Ukraine after it was attacked by Russia on February 24. However, later on, as the conflict progressed, Germany changed tack and agreed to send several thousand anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Kiev. However, the degree of military support provided to the country by Berlin has remained relatively modest, especially compared to the likes of the US and the UK. Senior Ukrainian officials, including the country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky and its ambassador to Germany, Andrei Melnyk, have repeatedly criticized Scholz’s government for what they’ve described as inadequate backing.
According to Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS), Europe’s industrial powerhouse received some 32% of its gas supplies from Russia in December 2021. Officials and business association leaders alike have repeatedly warned that an embargo on Russian gas would wreak havoc on the German economy. However, Ukraine and some other eastern European nations are urging Berlin to stop buying Russian hydrocarbons immediately, accusing Germany of effectively funding the Kremlin.
Ukraine vented its frustration with Germany last week, when Ukrainian authorities snubbed Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier who had intended to pay a visit to Kiev on April 13 along with several other heads of state. The German politician revealed that the Ukrainian government had indicated that he “wasn’t wanted in Kiev.” Meanwhile, the heads of state of Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were received by President Volodymyr Zelensky as planned.
Ukrainian officials have been highly critical of Steinmeier’s alleged close ties to Russia, as the politician was, among other things, involved with the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
Chancellor Scholz, for his part, described Kiev’s move as “irritating,” saying that “it would have been good” for Ukraine to welcome Steinmeier.