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September 23, 2021

Why are many voters in the upcoming German election undecided?

Why are many voters in the upcoming German election undecided?

A survey published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper has found that four in ten people who are voting on this coming Sunday haven’t decided on which party to vote for, Deutsche Welle reports. “We don't have an incumbent running. We have three instead of two parties trying to get the chancellorship. And it's not very clear—or rather it is far from clear—which coalition government we might get. So therefore I could understand that it's harder to make up your mind,” politics professor Thomas Gschwend from the University of Mannheim, says.

IZA World of Labor author Panu Poutvaara offers a different view. In his article he writes that candidates’ looks matter and can thus tip the scales between right and left. “Candidate appearance may be especially important for uninformed voters, as it is easy to observe. Voters may favor good-looking candidates because they expect them to be more competent or persuasive, but it can also be that voters simply enjoy laying their eyes on beautiful politicians. As politicians on the right have been deemed more attractive in Europe, the US, and Australia, the importance of beauty in politics favors conservative parties,” he writes.

Deutsche Welle also reminds that voter indecision could also be due to uncertainty about each candidate's standpoint. Another point of contention is what coalition alliances can emerge after the Sunday vote. “Coalitions are so unpredictable. At the moment, it looks likely that there will be a three-way coalition, which might well be led by the candidate of the party that came second,” historian Katja Hoyer, says.

Read Panu Poutvaara’s article How do candidates’ looks affect their election chances?