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Schulz's personal attacks on German Chancellor Merkel will not help him win elections, experts say

  • Martin Schulz, the head of the German Socialist Party, has dropped 10 percentage points in the opinion polls since last March
  • Political leaders should focus the debate on how to prepare the largest euro economy to the future, experts say
AFP | AFP I Getty Images

The tables have turned in the race to become the next chancellor of Germany.

Martin Schulz, the head of the German Socialist Party, has dropped 10 percentage points in the opinion polls since last March – posing an increasingly smaller threat to the long-standing leadership of Angela Merkel. Schulz has gone on the offensive, attacking Merkel's character, calling her "aloof" and "out of touch" in an interview with public broadcaster ARD on Sunday. Such a strategy doesn't appear to be working according to analysts.

"It's very unlikely that he will succeed," Stefan Schnieder, chief German economist at Deutsche Bank told CNBC Monday, talking about the federal elections that will take place on 24th September.

Apart from attacking Chancellor Merkel, "he also tries to depict the Germany economy and the state of the whole society as something that needs major improvement and voters just don't see it. I mean, the labour market is almost close to full employment, private consumption is on a strong clip so people don't want change," he said.

At the start of the year, Schulz had shaken German politics by leaving the European Parliament to race against Merkel. His little experience in domestic politics actually played in his favour at the start of the campaign given that his image wasn't associated with any of the issues in Germany, including the diesel emissions scandal. However, he seems to have failed using "the-new-face-in-politics" momentum.

Opinion polls out on March 11 showed Schulz with 33 percent of voting intentions – the same as Merkel's CDU party. Since then, Schulz's position has deteriorated. Polls out last Saturday gave only 23 percent of the votes to Schulz and 38 percent to Merkel.

'Falling asleep on the steering wheel'

"I understand he needs to get more attention on the campaign but I don't think that's going to be the road to success," Volker Wieland, member of the German Council of Economic Experts told CNBC about Schulz's attacks on Merkel and comments on inequality.

According to Wieland, political leaders should focus the debate on how to prepare the largest euro economy to the future.

"It's not that there are no issues to discuss, I think there's a danger that Germany is too complacent, is falling asleep on the steering wheel, not facing the new challenges on how to keep our economy fit for the future," he said.

One of the main headaches for Merkel is the automotive sector. The German public distrusts the system after the emissions scandal emerged and this has become one of the most sensitive topics for voters.

Merkel told the German newspaper Bild last week that big bonuses to the car industry were unfair and that she was angered at the manufacturers' exploitation of law loopholes. According to the German finance ministry, the emissions scandal is a major risk to the German economy. The sector employs about 800,000 people.

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