Merkel still leading pack two weeks ahead of vote

12th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

Merkel still looks set to win a ruling majority, which would allow her to dump her current junior partners, the Social Democrats, and create a centre-right coalition.

Berlin -- With just over two weeks to go until German election day, Chancellor Angela Merkel is flying high in opinion polls but her lead has shrunk, a poll released Friday showed.

Merkel's conservative Christian Union bloc (CDU/CSU) fell one point compared to last week to 36 percent support ahead of the September 27 vote, a poll for public broadcaster showed ZDF.

Her favoured coalition partner, the business-friendly Free Democrats, also slipped by one point, to 14 percent.

Despite the dip in support, that score would still guarantee them a ruling majority and allow Merkel to dump her current junior partners, the Social Democrats (SPD), to create a centre-right coalition.

The SPD held steady at 23 percent, according to the poll. Their traditional partners, the Greens, were also stable at 11 percent.

The far-left Die Linke, comprised of disaffected Social Democrats and former East German communists, gained a point to reach 11 percent.

The election campaign has been dominated by the recession as Europe's biggest economy struggles to emerge from its worst post-war downturn.

But a deadly air strike in Afghanistan last week ordered by a German commander has dominated recent headlines.

Merkel and her SPD challenger, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, offered a spirited defence the deployment of 4,200 German soldiers in Afghanistan in parliament Tuesday.

She gained a boost Thursday when General Motors opted to sell its European unit Opel, a major employer in Germany, to her favoured buyer, Canadian auto parts manufacturer Magna, after months of fraught negotiations.

The poll was conducted Tuesday to Thursday by independent opinion research institute Forschungsgruppe Wahlen among 1,336 randomly selected potential voters.


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