Anti-nuclear German Greens hit poll high as Merkel drops

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Germany's opposition Greens hit a new record high in the opinion polls Wednesday, now sharing second place among the parties amid public ire over Chancellor Angela Merkel's nuclear energy policy.

The ecologist Greens drew 24 percent in the Forsa poll for Stern magazine, a gain of two percentage points from last week and neck-and-neck with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), whose score was unchanged.

Merkel's conservative Christian Union (CDU) dropped one point to 29 percent while her coalition partners, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), remained rooted on five percent.

The far-left Linke party also lost one point and stood at 10 percent.

The Greens have been the most outspoken party against Merkel's plans to extend the working life of Germany's nuclear reactors, which prompted tens of thousands to take to the streets last week in protest.

Merkel's government has seen its support plummet in recent months due to incessant internal squabbling over issues such as tax cuts, health care reform and social welfare benefits.

The poll indicated that if the general election were held this week, the SPD and Greens would be well placed to reclaim power in Berlin.

A leader of the Greens' parliamentary group, Juergen Trittin, told the Rheinische Post that the next general election, due in 2013, would be a battle between the Greens and the CDU rather than the tradition SPD-CDU fight.

"We are happy to take on that challenge," he told the regional daily.

Forsa conducted the survey September 13-17 among a representative sample of 2,501 German voters.

© 2010 AFP

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