German economy minister popularity dwindling over energy crisis
The Green economy minister in Germany is falling out of favor as Berlin struggles to reign in surging energy prices.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck has fallen out of favor, losing his months-long position as the voters' pick due to his inability to mitigate soaring energy prices as the country undergoes a crisis, a poll published by the German Bild daily newspaper.
Over 50% of those sampled by the INSA pollster on June 3 lauded the Green minister's performance, with only 26% saying they would describe his performance as "bad".
However, a survey conducted on Friday among 1,000 respondents found that Habeck was not as favored anymore, with the public's approval of his performance declining to 34% over the past three months, with an additional 49% saying they disapproved of his performance.
19% of respondents said in the poll that they would not elect the minister as chancellor if they were able to vote directly, a 6% decline from June. Support for incumbent Chancellor Olaf Scholz increased from 18% to 24%.
Habeck has been up against the ropes, not knowing whether Berlin should keep its nuclear power plants running through spring and sideline his party or continue carrying out the country's plans to stop using nuclear energy while risking a complete blackout in the upcoming harsh winter.
The Greens have legislative polls around the corner in the state of Lower Saxony on October 9, and Habeck stepping back from the nuclear phase-out plans and the EU's commitment to green transition might have a devastating impact on the party's score at the ballots.
The German government approved last Sunday a €65 billion relief package, which includes continued cheaper public transport and tax breaks for energy-reliant companies, as they have been affected the most by the biggest surge in prices.
According to the Federal Statistical Office, Germany's inflation rose to almost 8% in August after declining slightly in the months of June and July.
The consecutive sanctions against Moscow prompted a race against the clock to diminish Germany's reliance on Russian gas before winter. Groceries and food are other sectors experiencing the aftermath of soaring inflation which saw prices surge 12% in June before reaching 16.6% in August.
In a press release after talks on Sunday, chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany would give €1.5 billion toward public transport discounts after the country's monthly €9 travel ticket offer expired at the end of August, adding that windfall taxes would likely be assessed on energy companies to lower the price of gas, oil, and coal for consumers.
As the German economy struggles, Russia's decision to suspend the operation of its Nord Stream 1 pipeline has given rise to fear about the prospects for gas prices as the European economy has taken one hit after the other due to the Western sanctions on Moscow.
13 EU nations have either ceased getting Russian gas entirely or are only receiving a portion of it due to the temporary blockage of the Nord Stream pipeline 1, the Russian TASS news agency reported last week.
Surging costs of power linked to gas prices have already stunted the production of various industries, such as fertilizers and aluminum manufacturers, and prompted EU governments, such as Germany, to increase their spending by billions in order to help their citizens.
Italy and Germany are now the two largest European countries most exposed to a gas supply shock due to their extensive use of natural gas and significant reliance on Russia, according to S&P Global Ratings.
About 60% of Germany's natural gas supply was piped in from Russia in 2020, primarily under long-term contracts.