Poll shows new extreme-left party gaining ground
8 July 2005, BERLIN - With the countdown underway for Germany's expected early elections, the nation's new hard-left alliance has continued to gain ground at the expense of the country's major political parties, a poll published Friday shows.
8 July 2005
BERLIN - With the countdown underway for Germany's expected early elections, the nation's new hard-left alliance has continued to gain ground at the expense of the country's major political parties, a poll published Friday shows.
While the poll, drawn up by Infratest for ARD television, showed Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD) remaining stuck at 27 per cent, it also showed the new left alliance, compromising the post-communist Party of Democratic Socialism and the so-called Election Alternative for Labour and Social Justice, gaining 1 per cent of popular support to rise to 11 per cent.
This followed a 1 per cent fall in support to 43 per cent over the last month for opposition Chancellor-candidate Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian-based associate party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).
Combined with 7 per cent for Merkel's likely coalition partner, the liberal Free Democrats, the ARD poll, which was based on between 1,000 and 1,500 voters and conducted on July 4 and 5, still points to her centre-right bloc emerging as the winner of the election, which is likely to be held in September.
However, coming as details about the parties' campaign manifestos emerge, the poll does show a steady erosion in support for Merkel. At the start of June, the ARD poll showed Merkel's CDU and CSU with a commanding 48 per cent of the vote.
Merkel is to outline details of her programme next Monday with tensions having already surfaced over the possibility that it will include an increase in Germany's value-added tax and another major revamp of the nation's cumbersome tax system.
Opposition officials say the increased revenue from a VAT hike would be used to help offset the high-cost of employment in Germany.
Despite record high jobless figures in Germany, tax has already moved up the political agenda of the major parties with Schroeder's SPD promising a new tax surcharge on high income earners.
Schroeder decided to push to bring forward the country's election by one year in the wake of a humiliating defeat for his party last month in a poll in the SPD's traditional heartland of North Rhine Westphalia.
Horst Koehler, who currently holds Germany's largely ceremonial presidency, is considering whether to grant the early election.
Support for the Green Party, the junior member of Schroeder's coalition, remained steady at 8 per cent, Friday's poll showed.
Particularly worrying for major parties is that the poll shows the left alliance, with an agenda aimed at fighting off reforms to Germany's social welfare system, gaining about 30 per cent of the vote in the nation's former communist east.
With the east having only emerged from communist rule about 15 years ago, political party loyalties are not as strong as in the western part of the country, which makes it a key election battleground.
The SPD could only claim 24 per cent of the vote in the east, where many voters have been hit by Schroeder's tough welfare reforms.
Subject: German news