Support for Merkel’s party drops ahead of election
Support for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives has slipped, and over a third of Germans are unsure how they will vote, an opinion poll showed, fuelling uncertainty about what kind of coalition will emerge from the September 24 election.
The weekly survey, conducted by pollster Forschungsgruppe Wahlen for ZDF television, showed support for Merkel’s conservative bloc falling 2 points to 36% — a result that would still make it the largest group in parliament.
Support for its nearest rivals, the left-leaning Social Democrats (SPD), rose by one point to 23%. The busi- ness-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) and the anti-immigration, euro-hostile Alternative for Germany (AfD) were both on 10%.
The poll of 1,383 voters, also showed that 39% of those surveyed were still unsure how they would vote.
“More than ever, all these polls should be taken with a grain of salt now. There surely could be some surprises on election night,” said Gero Neugebauer, political scientist at Berlin’s Free University.
He doubted the SPD could overtake Merkel’s conservatives, who he expected to be the largest parliamentary party with the Social Democrats the second biggest.
“But in the fight among the smaller parties for third place and possible power in a coalition, everything is still up in the air,” Neugebauer added.
With the election likely to install six parties in parliament, up from four now, Germany will be marked by a more fractured political landscape after the vote. This could make coalitionbuilding difficult.
The latest poll showed support for the far-left Linke stood at 9%, with the environmentalist Greens on 8%.
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a senior Social Democrat, told broadcaster SWR he favoured a so-called “traffic light” coalition with the FDP and Greens. However, the poll put support for such an alliance at just 41%.
The survey showed there would be sufficient support for both a repeat of the incumbent “grand coalition” of Merkel’s conservatives and the SPD, and for a so-called “Jamaica” coalition of the conservatives, FDP and Greens.
However, Greens coleader Cem Ozdemir sounded a sceptical note about a possible three-way Jamaica tie-up — a reference to the parties’ colours: black (conservatives), yellow (FDP) and green (Greens).
“I don’t see how we should get together with the FDP,” he told the daily Berliner Zeitung.
FDP leader Christian Lindner also played down the likelihood of such an alliance. “The Greens have long since bid farewell to Jamaica by raising their demands to the max,” he told Der Spiegel magazine.
Lindner, a potential finance minister if the FDP joins a coalition, also set out red lines on euro zone policy ahead of negotiations.
“I fear that Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron are agreed on new pots of money in the euro zone to create a gigantic financial transfer system,” he said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel.