BERLIN Support for Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) nudged up to 32 percent, one percentage point behind Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, over the past week, according to a poll published on Wednesday.
The centre-left SPD, currently the junior partner in Merkel’s ruling coalition, has seen its poll ratings soar since nominating former European Parliament president Martin Schulz as its candidate for chancellor in the Sept. 24 federal election.
The weekly poll, conducted by the Forsa institute for Stern magazine, showed support for Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party (CSU) stable at 33 percent. The support for the SPD was up one percentage point on the week.
The institute put the poll’s margin of error at 2.5 percentage points, meaning the CDU/CSU bloc and the SPD are in a neck-and-neck race.
Both Merkel, who will seek a fourth term as chancellor, and Schulz are hoping to end their parties’ ‘grand coalition’ and to form a new government with smaller allies.
The Forsa poll, which canvassed the views of some 2,500 voters, showed the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party down one percentage point at 8 percent, while support for the Greens party and the Left party were unchanged at 8 percent and 7 percent, respectively.
The business-friendly Free Democratic Party lost one percentage point to 6 percent, just above the 5 percent threshold needed to take seats in parliament.
Forsa head Manfred Guellner said that based on the results, the SPD could form a coalition government with the Greens and the Left, adding that their combined score of 47 percent would translate into a slim parliamentary majority.
Schulz has promised to fight job insecurity and old-age poverty by reducing temporary work contracts and rolling back some of the ‘Agenda 2010’ labour reforms enacted by the last SPD-led government.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Gareth Jones)