Merkel's Christian Democrats face renewed test in Hamburg

16th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

The party is facing declining support according to a recent poll.

Berlin -- Ten days before elections in the northern city-state of Hamburg, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) face declining support, according to a recent poll.

The survey, commissioned by public broadcaster ARD, put the CDU on 39 percent, ahead of the Social Democrats (SPD) on 35 percent, suggesting forming a governing coalition after the Feb. 24 election will be problematic.

For the past four years, Mayor Ole von Beust has governed the city at the head of a CDU government after the party secured 47 percent of the vote in March 2004 and sufficient seats to rule without a coalition partner.

The Infratest-dimap telephone poll of 1,000 respondents this week showed CDU support falling by 2 percentage points since the beginning of the month, while the SPD was 2 points up.

The Greens came in on 10 percent, with the Left Party on 8 percent and the liberal FDP on 5 percent.

On this basis, the CDU would be unable to form a government with its preferred coalition partner, the FDP, while an SPD-Greens alliance would similarly fail to secure a majority.

Neither the CDU nor the SPD are prepared to enter government in a western state with The Left, although the SPD has formed ruling coalitions with the party in eastern states. An SPD-Left coalition is currently in power in the city-state Berlin.

The CDU suffered setbacks in elections on Jan. 27 in the important western states of Lower Saxony and Hesse, which were seen as mid-term tests of Merkel's leadership.

In Lower Saxony, a CDU-FDP government hung onto power, even though the CDU lost support. In Hesse, where the CDU had ruled without a partner, a drastic loss of support for the party has led to a deadlock in the state parliament that remains unresolved.

At federal level, Merkel heads an unwieldy broad coalition combining her conservative Christian CDU/CSU bloc with the SPD. The next federal elections must be held by September 2009.

DPA with Expatica

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