Merkel retains strong poll lead despite rivals' rise
Less than two weeks before German elections, Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives maintained a strong poll lead Wednesday despite an increase for the opposition Social Democrats.
Merkel also boasted a 26-point edge in her personal approval rating over her Social Democratic Party (SPD) rival Peer Steinbrueck ahead of the September 22 vote.
Although Merkel fell three points and Steinbrueck gained three after the campaign's only TV clash on September 1, she still enjoyed a yawning 52-26 percent lead in the Forsa Institute poll.
The chancellor's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its CSU Bavarian sister party scored a total of 39 percent, while their coalition allies the Free Democrats polled at six percent.
Their combined 45 percent compared to 25 percent for the centre-left SPD, up two points, and nine percent for its opposition allies the Greens, their worst rating in four years.
The far-left Linke party rose to 10 percent -- meaning that the major opposition parties between them scored 44 percent, just one point behind the ruling coalition.
However the SPD and Greens have insisted they consider the leftist party too extreme and would not form a "red-red-green" government.
The anti-euro party AFD and the Internet freedom party the Pirates both gained three percent, placing them below the five-percent threshold for entering parliament.
A wild card remains the large number of undecided voters or respondents who said they would not cast their ballots, who between them made up 28 percent of those polled.
The Forsa Institute poll of 2,500 voters was conducted for RTL private television and news weekly Stern from September 3 to 9.
© 2013 AFP