German SPD Gains in Poll as Steinbrueck Enjoys Merkel’s Vacation

Germany’s main opposition Social Democratic Party gained on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s bloc in a Forsa poll as SPD challenger Peer Steinbrueck took advantage of Merkel’s absence on vacation.

Support for the SPD rose a percentage point to 23 percent with its Green party ally also up a point at 14 percent, the weekly poll for Hamburg-based Stern magazine and RTL television showed today. Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc had 40 percent, down one point, and her Free Democratic coalition partner held at 5 percent. The Left Party dropped one point to 7 percent, Stern said.

As Merkel holidays in the Italian Alps before hitting the campaign trail next week before the Sept. 22 vote, Steinbrueck has raised his profile with a television interview, a talk-show appearance and a TV documentary about his life in the past three days. All the same, the latest poll would still allow Merkel to resume her coalition with the FDP, Stern said.

With an “unusually low number” of those who voted SPD at the 2009 election saying they will do so again -- 57 percent -- the party “has a lot of work still to do” to win them over, Forsa chief Manfred Guellner was cited by Stern as saying. “That can only happen if the SPD is able to convince them it can solve the country’s problems and its choice of personnel is accepted.”

Forsa polled 3,003 voters between July 29 and Aug. 5. The results have a margin of error of as much as 2.5 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Crawford in Berlin at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at

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