The Free Voters around Hubert Aiwanger are benefiting massively from the anti-Semitism affair surrounding their chairman, as election surveys show. Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder and his CSU, however, remain at a weak level.
The leaflet affair surrounding Hubert Aiwanger gave him and his Free Voters in Bavaria a record high in the polls, while the CSU is in a low mood. In the new “Bayerntrend” by Bayerischer Rundfunk, which was published on Tuesday, the CSU of party leader and Prime Minister Markus Söder once again does not get above 36 percent, as in two previous surveys. This is the lowest survey value in more than a year and a half – lower than the already historically poor state election result in 2018 (37.2 percent).
In the representative survey by the Infratest dimap institute, the Free Voters are at 17 percent. That is another percentage point more than in two surveys conducted by other institutes last week – and the highest value that the Free Voters have ever achieved in a survey. Compared to the “Bayern trend” from May, it is an increase of five points. They won 11.6 percent in the 2018 state elections and have been governing together with the CSU ever since.
SPD in Bavaria is just consumptive
According to the survey, if there were a state election next Sunday, the Greens would only end up in third place with 15 percent. In the “Bayerntrend” the AfD comes in at 13 percent and the SPD at 9 percent. Things are getting tighter for the FDP: According to this survey, with 3 percent they would clearly fail at the five percent hurdle and would no longer be in the state parliament.
Political scientists recently cited a mixture of increased popularity and solidarity effects for Aiwanger as the reasons for the Free Voters’ soaring.
The 52-year-old recently defended himself against allegations of having written an anti-Semitic leaflet when he was at school, which the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reported on. Instead, his brother accused himself of being the author. However, Aiwanger admitted that “one or a few copies” had been found in his school bag. After several days, and also after further allegations about his school days, Aiwanger apologized, but at the same time went on a counterattack and complained about a political campaign. In the end, Söder rejected Aiwanger’s dismissal as “not proportionate”. The CSU and Free Voters want to continue their coalition after the election.
For Söder, the result is a catastrophe
If the result on the evening of the election on October 8th turns out to be like the current polls, Söder would be responsible for a further decline in the CSU. But even if the Aiwanger affair was a factor: in previous surveys, the CSU had barely improved on its 2018 result. And this after more than five years of Söder’s reign, even though he has been touring the country tirelessly for a long time and despite the drastic loss of reputation of the Berlin traffic light coalition. Even before the Aiwanger case, quite a few CSU members had remarked that the party should actually be doing better.
The Free Voters, on the other hand, should go into coalition negotiations with the CSU massively strengthened if their soaring continues – including demands for more than three ministries as before.
Söder once again called the high poll numbers for Aiwanger on Tuesday, before the publication of the current “Bayerntrend”, “a fever curve of solidarity”. “We will see what the citizens ultimately decide in the election,” he emphasized.
53 percent consider Hubert Aiwanger’s explanations to be credible
According to “Bayerntrend”, a good two thirds (68 percent) of Bavarians believe Söder’s decision not to fire Aiwanger was right, while just under a quarter (24 percent) consider it wrong. 53 percent of Bavarians consider Aiwanger’s explanations to be credible – 35 percent do not. When asked about satisfaction with politicians, there was virtually no change for Söder and Aiwanger compared to May.
In principle, election surveys only reflect opinions at the time of the survey and are not predictions of the election outcome. They are also always subject to uncertainty. Among other things, weakening party ties and increasingly short-term voting decisions make it more difficult for opinion research institutes to weight the data collected. Infratest dimap indicates the range of fluctuation as follows: 2 percentage points for a share value of 10 percent, 3 percentage points for a share value of 50 percent.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.