Germans endorse government U-turn on Ukraine | Germany | In-depth news and reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW

The Russian invasion of Ukraine led the German government to drastically change policy.

On Sunday February 27, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) announced the export of arms to Ukraine, a dramatic increase in defense spending and his country’s support for tough sanctions against Russia, which is Germany’s main gas supplier. and coal.

Polling firm infratest conducted a telephone and online survey of 1,320 adults eligible to vote across Germany from February 28 to March 2 and found that 53% of respondents found the government’s tough new response appropriate. German. For 27%, this does not go far enough. 14%, on the other hand, say it goes too far.

Refugees, economy and Bundeswehr

A majority – even among those who support the far-right populist anti-migration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party – say they support Germany taking in refugees from Ukraine: 91% agree that this is basically the right thing to do.

For decades, German governments have pursued a strict policy of not sending arms to crisis regions. Berlin initially refused to provide military aid to Ukraine in the current crisis – now it has given the green light. Attitudes towards arms deliveries have changed dramatically: in February, only 20% of voters polled were in favour; this figure has now risen to 61%. And 45% believe that the turnaround in Berlin came too late.

The planned financial boost for the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, was also approved. A one-time investment of 100 billion euros (1.2 billion) and the increase in the military budget to meet NATO’s stipulation of 2% of GDP has been announced – to the satisfaction of many.

NATO itself seems to have experienced a resurgence in popularity during the current crisis: 83% of respondents stressed the importance of the transatlantic defense alliance for peace in Europe.

A majority of respondents criticized Germany’s friendly and business policies towards Russia over the past decades: 68% said they felt Berlin had been too lenient towards Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Six out of ten respondents support Ukraine’s long-term membership of the European Union. But pessimism prevails: three out of four respondents expect Ukraine to be fully occupied by Russia.

The general feeling is gloomy: nine out of ten respondents say they are very worried. In the summer of 2014, on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, three out of ten Germans feared another major war on the continent. Today, seven in ten fear that other countries will be attacked by Russia.

Most respondents in the monthly survey say they are aware that Germany will not emerge unscathed: 64% fear a deterioration in the German economic situation, 66% fear restrictions on gas and energy supplies. Half of all respondents doubt that the sanctions will have an impact on the current course of Russia. Nevertheless, most Germans support the punitive measures.

Infographic showing approval rates for the top five metrics

Russia is at the bottom of the list of countries respondents consider to be trustworthy partners – behind China. The United States, meanwhile, is at a ten-year high.

The new federal government coalition of SPD, Greens and neoliberal FDP – which hasn’t even been in power for 100 days – has been able to regain confidence, after losing significant support earlier this year. A month ago, only 38% said they were satisfied with the government, today this figure is 56%.

Overall, Germany’s ruling politicians have performed well: 56% say they are satisfied with the work of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, an increase of 13% from last month.

Green Party Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has made significant gains and now has a 50% approval rating. FDP Finance Minister Christian Lindner and Economics Minister and Green Party Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck rose 7% and 8% to 49% and 47%, respectively.

If federal elections were to be held tomorrow, however, the centre-right opposition parties, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU), would likely score a victory.

Infographic showing who respondents would vote for if a snap federal election were to take place

This article was originally written in German.

While You’re Here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what’s happening in German politics and society. You can sign up for the weekly Berlin Briefing email newsletter here.

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