The political landscape in Europe is undergoing a significant shift, with opposition parties in both the UK and Germany gaining momentum in the opinion polls. In the UK, the Labour Party is on track to regain power after years in opposition, posing a threat to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party. Meanwhile, in Germany, the center-right opposition has emerged victorious in two important state elections, dealing a blow to the unpopular ruling party led by Olaf Scholz.
The recent success of the Labour Party in opinion polls has put them approximately 20 points ahead of the ruling Conservatives, setting the stage for a potential election next year. Their victory in a parliamentary seat in Scotland has been hailed as “seismic” by party leader Keir Starmer. Additionally, Labour has experienced success in fundraising, attracting millions in donations and winning over executives and investors who have switched their allegiance from the Tories.
One noteworthy aspect of Labour’s approach is its attempt to woo companies by promising stability and conditions favorable for economic growth. Deputy leader Angela Rayner, who will be opening the party’s conference, highlighted the Conservatives’ legacy of “national decline” and pledged that Labour would give back Britain’s future by securing growth for all people and places.
In Germany, the ruling party led by Olaf Scholz, known as the heir to Angela Merkel’s legacy, has faced setbacks in recent state elections. The center-right opposition, comprised of the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union, emerged victorious in two states. Furthermore, the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which has been riding high in national polls, saw significant electoral gains.
The campaign leading up to the state elections in Germany was marked by public pressure to address the issue of migration, particularly the unsustainable number of migrants arriving in the country. The national interior minister, responsible for handling the migration crisis, suffered a resounding defeat in her bid to become governor.
Projections based on exit polls and counting showed the Christian Social Union maintaining its hold on Bavaria with almost 37% of the vote, while the Christian Democratic Union was expected to win around 34% in Hesse. These results indicate gains for the opposition parties and a decline in support for the ruling coalition of center-left Social Democrats, environmentalist Greens, and pro-business Free Democrats.
The rising prominence of the AfD, which is projected to finish second in both Hesse and Bavaria, underscores the growing influence of right-wing politics in Germany. AfD’s chief whip in parliament, Bernd Baumann, remarked that “the wind is changing in Germany,” with the mainstream conservative opposition representing the wind of change.
Overall, the declining popularity of the governing parties and the rising fortunes of opposition parties in both the UK and Germany signal a significant political shift. While the Labour Party aims to position itself as the party for economic growth in the UK, the center-right opposition in Germany is capitalizing on public concerns over migration. As the winds of change continue to blow, it remains to be seen how these political dynamics will play out in future elections.