Merkel’s challenger drop to year-low after scandal

6th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

Support for the centre-left Social Democrats fell to 20 percent, the lowest level since August 2008, while Merkel's centre-right bloc continued to fly high on 37 percent, the Forsa survey said.

 

Berlin -- With less than eight weeks to go until German elections, the party challenging Chancellor Angela Merkel dropped to its lowest level for a year following a ministerial scandal, a poll said on Wednesday.

Support for the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) fell to 20 percent, the lowest level since August 2008, while Merkel's centre-right bloc (CDU/CSU) continued to fly high on 37 percent, the Forsa survey for Stern magazine said.

Manfred Guellner, the head of the Forsa institute, said the dip in support for the Social Democrats was partly caused by a scandal involving an SPD health minister who took her official car on holiday, prompting a public outcry.

"The affair stirred up all the reservations over the SPD that were already there: incompetence and distance from the people," said Guellner.

Merkel's challenger for power, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has struggled to make dents in her popularity despite unveiling a campaign team and making a contentious pledge to bring full employment to Europe's largest economy by 2020.

However, in Germany's complex system of coalition politics, voters choose parties, not individuals, and elections do not boil down to a straight race between the two main parties.

Merkel wants to ditch the SPD -- currently junior partners in an unwieldy grand coalition -- and govern instead with the liberal Free Democrats, whose support also rose by one point to 14 percent, according to the poll.

This would in theory give Merkel the necessary majority to form her desired coalition after the September 27 election, albeit by a slim 51 percent.

The Green party rose by one point to 13 percent and the far-left Linke party also gained in support, rising to 11 percent.

Forsa surveyed 2502 voters over a four day period at the end of July.

AFP/Expatica

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