Economy & Politics

Elite panel survey: decision-makers praise the German government’s response to the crisis

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz at the press conference to present the economic stimulus package in early June
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz at the press conference to present the economic stimulus package in early Juneimago images / photo library

Crisis management in the corona pandemic has given the federal government a massive boost in confidence among Germany’s leading elite. This shows the latest elite panel of the Institute for Demoscopy Allensbach (IfD), a survey of around 500 executives from business, politics and administration. Accordingly, 90 percent of decision-makers believe that the federal government is doing very good or good work in the crisis. Only nine percent attest that the grand coalition does less or not a good job.

Satisfaction with the response to the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis is reflected in all questions on which the IfD interviewed the top management from business and politics. Around 85 percent of respondents believe that the lockdown at the beginning of the crisis was correct (14 percent consider it excessive).

Almost 70 percent of the respondents consider the scope of the government aid packages to be sufficient. The same number indicated that they consider the virologists’ influence in the crisis to be appropriate. 28 percent, on the other hand, criticized that politics had given virologists too much influence. 61 percent of all decision-makers questioned disagreed with the criticism that crisis management was unilaterally geared towards health issues and that economic or social issues were neglected.

Elite panel: some results at a glance

Remarkably, there are hardly any differences between representatives of business and politics on this question. There is also a lot of support from the economy for the restrictions that the federal and state governments have decided to combat the pandemic – unlike in the political discussion about the right balance between health and economic interests.

When asked how quickly the measures should be lifted, even a larger proportion of business representatives are in favor of a restrictive approach (72 percent) than among those questioned from politics (62 percent). When it came to whether border openings in Europe would increase the risk of the epidemic spreading, business decision-makers were more skeptical than politicians.

As a result, widespread support for the anti-crisis strategy is leading to a significant reassessment of policy-making. For the first time since 2016, a majority in the elite panel is of the opinion that the federal government is strong enough to solve the problems. In the last survey in autumn 2019, only 34 percent were convinced.

In the new survey, which was carried out in mid-June to mid-July, this figure shot up to 81 percent. Only 16 percent of the top decision-makers are concerned that the federal government may be too weak in dealing with the pandemic and its consequences. In autumn this figure was 64 percent.

Most important crisis manager: Chancellor with the best approval ratings

Among the most important crisis managers, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) comes up with the best personal approval ratings. 91 percent of the top management confirm that they do very good or good work. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD, 82 percent approval), Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU, 81 percent) and Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU, 79 percent) followed roughly the same way. The work of Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier (CDU), on the other hand, rated the majority as negative (56 percent). Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet (CDU) confirm 65 percent that he did less or no good work in the corona crisis.

Despite the good grades for political crisis management, the top decision-makers are very concerned about the economic impact of the pandemic. 83 percent say that they are very or very worried about the current economic situation. The concerns among the business representatives surveyed are a bit greater (35 percent are very worried) than among the political decision-makers (27 percent are very worried).

Shared opinion on further development

When evaluating the current order situation, the negative trend of the last surveys of the elite panel continues. There is a mixed picture when it comes to the extent to which the own recession and the own company are affected by the recession: slightly more than 50 percent of the business representatives surveyed state that their branch and their company are very or very badly affected. The top management is also divided on how the economy will continue: 46 percent assume that the economy will continue to decline in the next six months. 46 percent also expect an upswing.

The Elite Panel is Europe’s most prominent leadership survey. The Institute for Demoscopy Allensbach (IfD) has been performing it twice a year for since 1987, in 2015 the F.A.Z. added as another client. Among the more than 500 top decision-makers from business, politics and administration surveyed this time were 94 board members from groups with more than 20,000 employees, 19 ministers and prime ministers and 30 heads of federal or state authorities.

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