German Greens hit record poll high
The Green party in Germany is enjoying record support in the country, a new poll showed Wednesday, buoyed by a fierce debate over the future of nuclear power in Europe's top economy.
The ecologist party soared to 28 percent in the survey, conducted by independent pollsters Forsa for Stern magazine, a gain of seven percentage points.
According to Forsa, the Greens are now Germany's strongest opposition party, ahead of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), who polled 23 percent, a drop of two points from the previous survey.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives are on 30 percent, the poll showed, losing three percentage points, with her embattled coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP) hitting new lows at three percent.
If the results were replicated in a federal election, Merkel's coalition would be far behind a union of SDP and the Greens and Germany would have its first Green chancellor.
Manfred Guellner, the head of the Forsa institute, said the reason was that all political parties have been forced into debating nuclear power -- a core issue for the Greens -- following the crisis at Japan's Fukushima plant.
In the wake of the disaster, Merkel decided to hold off on an earlier decision to extend the lifetimes of Germany's 17 reactors, and to shut off seven while safety checks are carried out.
But the move backfired, with voters seeing the climbdown as electioneering before a crucial vote in the wealthy state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, which Merkel duly lost.
In a bid to turn around the FDP's disastrous poll ratings, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has said he will not run again for the head of the party with Asian-born Philipp Roesler likely to take over the reins.
Forsa surveyed 2,505 voters between March 28 and April 1.
© 2011 AFP