Merkel falls in polls as new alliance gains ground

20th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

20 July 2005, BERLIN - Opposition chancellor candidate Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic-led political bloc has continued to lose ground just two months before an expected early election in Germany, according to an opinion poll released Wednesday.

20 July 2005

BERLIN - Opposition chancellor candidate Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic-led political bloc has continued to lose ground just two months before an expected early election in Germany, according to an opinion poll released Wednesday.

The poll, drawn up by market researchers Forsa for the weekly Stern magazine, showed support for the Christian Democrats (CDU) and its Bavarian-based Christian Social Union (CSU) dropping two percentage points from last week to 44 per cent. The CDU-CSU has lost five points over the last month.

Despite the decline in support for Merkel'S CDU-CSU, the Forsa poll shows the opposition maintaining a commanding lead over Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's ruling Social Democrats (SPD) with the opposition's likely coalition partner, the Free Democrats, gaining the support of seven per cent of those responding to the survey.

The slide in support for the CDU-CSU also follows the release of an opposition election campaign manifesto which sets out plans for a hike in VAT.

The latest poll comes as German President Horst Koehler considers whether to agree to Schroeder's call to bring forward the elections by one year.

Koehler is expected to make his announcement by the end of the week so as to allow an early poll to be held on September 18.

However, finalising the date for holding the poll could be complicated by a threat from a parliamentary deputy to lodge a challenge to the early election with the nation's constitutional court.

It could take up to four weeks for the court to rule on whether it agreed that the conditions for holding an early poll had been met.

But Schroeder's SPD is unlikely to draw much comfort from Wednesday's Forsa poll.

It showed support for the Chancellor's party remaining unchanged at 27 per cent with the junior member of Schroeder's coalition, the Greens, gaining one point to edge up to eight per cent.

The Forsa poll also underscores the risk posed to the CDU-CSU by the formation of a new hard-left alliance, which could stop the Merkel-led bloc from gaining a parliamentary majority after the election.

This could result in the CDU being forced to form a so-called "grand coalition" with the SPD.

Forged from the post-communist Party of Democratic Socialism and the Election Alternative for Labour and Social Justice, the new grouping's support rose one point to 11 per cent.

Support for the new left alliance also highlights the deep opposition in parts of the country, especially in the east, to the tough welfare and labour market reforms that have been introduced by the Schroeder government and that would be likely to be continued by Merkel.

DPA

Subject: German news

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