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Higher crisis awareness among the population on the topic of migration

The University of Freiburg’s political panel survey also reveals a continued high level of perceived division in society

Freiburg, Oct 12, 2023

Crisis awareness among the population has risen significantly on the issue of migration, but has declined on other issues. A perceived division of society, meanwhile, remains at a high level with noticeable differences depending on party preference. And 15 per cent could imagine voting for a “Wagenknecht” Party. These are the core results of the latest survey conducted by the University of Freiburg’s Political Panel Germany between September 28 and October 8, 2023 with 10,038 participants surveyed. The surveys were conducted by Prof. Dr. Uwe Wagschal and Dr. Sebastian Jäckle from the Department of Political Science in collaboration with Dr. James Kenneth Timmis, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Crisis awareness regarding migration reaches the level from 2015

Compared to the last panel wave in January 2023 crisis awareness with regard to migration has increased by 16 percentage points and has returned to the level seen in 2015. Now, 55.7 per cent of respondents consider immigration and migration to be fairly or very threatening. Germans currently see only the war in Ukraine as more threatening (57.2 per cent of respondents, previously 76.8 per cent). Strong concerns about inflation were cited by 55.3 per cent of respondents (previously 63.6 per cent), and 52.3 per cent (previously 62.2 per cent) about the climate crisis. Fear of Corona, on the other hand, hardly plays a role anymore. Only 5.1 per cent still feel quite or very threatened by the pandemic (previously 12.1 per cent). This means that the population’s crisis awareness has only increased in the case of migration. In all the other areas surveyed, it fell.

Perceptions of crises and social division differ depending on party preference

“What is striking, however, is that perceptions of crises and social division in particular differ greatly in some cases, depending on different party preferences,” says Wagschal. For respondents who intend to vote Green, the climate crisis is the greatest threat: 96.3 per cent see it as fairly or very threatening. Among AfD supporters, on the other hand, the figure is only 8.8 per cent. For 96.6 per cent of AfD supporters, migration poses a fairly or very great threat. Among CDU/CSU supporters, the figure is 71.6 per cent, among FDP supporters 59.42 per cent, among SPD supporters 26.4 per cent, among left-wing supporters 17.7 per cent and among Green Party supporters 12.6 per cent.  The Ukraine war is perceived as at least fairly threatening by over 60 per cent of CDU/CSU, SPD and Green Party supporters. Among AfD supporters, the figure is significantly lower at 44.4 per cent.  In response to the question, “All in all, how divided do you think German society is overall on a scale of 0 to 10?", AfD supporters in particular see German society as extremely divided. Half of them gave a value greater than or equal to 8. The average across all respondents in the survey is 6.5. Supporters of the SPD, the Green Party and FDP see German society as somewhat divided, but here, too, half of all respondents give a value greater than or equal to 6. More than half of those who intend to vote for the CDU/CSU and the Left Party still give a value of 7. Only 6.9 per cent of respondents see no or only a slight division of society in Germany, i.e., values from 0 to 3.

Possible “Wagenknecht” Party: unclear whether potential could also be converted into votes

When asked how they would rate the founding of a party by Sahra Wagenknecht for the German political system, 29.1 per cent rated it as “somewhat good” or “very good.” In contrast, 30.2 per cent rated it as “bad" or “very bad.” 40.7 per cent see it as “neither good nor bad.” Compared to supporters of the other parties, supporters of the left, the other parties and, above all, the AfD are most likely to have a fundamentally more positive attitude toward a “Wagenknecht” Party. Overall, 15 per cent of respondents could imagine voting for such a party. Wagschal is skeptical, however, about whether this potential could be converted into actual votes. “A possible election program, the top personnel and the party structures are still unknown. Therefore, the answers might be a reflection of intense protest against the other parties.”

  • The Political Panel Germany (Politikpanel Deutschland) is a survey conducted by the Department of Political Science at the University of Freiburg. It has been held at irregular intervals since the 2017 federal election.

  • The current survey results can be found at

  • For the current survey, more than 10,000 people from all over Germany were asked online about political and social issues. The survey ran from 28 September to 8 October 2023. The data of the participants were weighted according to the socio-demographic characteristics of age, gender, state and voting intention and thus adjusted to the actual distribution throughout the population.

  • Prof. Dr. Uwe Wagschal is Chair for Comparative Politics at the Department of Political Science at the University of Freiburg. Dr. Sebastian Jäckle is Assistant Professor there. Dr. James Kenneth Timmis is currently at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands and will be a research fellow at the Department of Political Science starting 01 November 2023.

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