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German FDP Voters Favor Bruederle Over Roesler

Eight months before a German election that may end Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition with the Free Democratic Party, support for FDP leader Philipp Roesler among voters is dwindling, a Forsa poll showed.

Seventy-six percent of FDP voters said the party’s caucus chief, Rainer Bruederle, would be a better leader than Roesler, Stern magazine said, citing the poll it commissioned together with RTL television.

Roesler’s party may fail to win enough votes for parliamentary representation at a regional election in his home state of Lower Saxony on Jan. 20 and may face the same fate at national level, polls show. The FDP leader declined to tell Bild, Germany’s biggest-selling newspaper, whether he’ll run again for party chairman at a May 3-5 congress in Nuremberg.

“It’s not about individuals. It’s about the future of the liberal cause,” Roesler was cited as saying by Bild. “Whether I run again at the next party congress isn’t up for discussion now. I’ve always said that I am going step by step. The next step is success in Lower Saxony.”

Deputy FDP leader Birgit Homburger, whose regional group hosts a Jan. 6 party meeting in Stuttgart, urged FDP members to show unity after Free Democrat Environment Minister Dirk Niebel said the party should split the jobs of chairman and top candidate for the September 2013 federal election.

Support for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its Christian Social Union Bavarian sister party rose to 41 percent in a Forsa poll published Dec. 27 from 38 percent a week earlier, while backing for the FDP slipped to 4 percent from 5 percent. The threshold for parliamentary representation is 5 percent.

The opposition Social Democrats, with former Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck as candidate for the chancellorship and Frank-Walter Steinmeier as party leader, held at 27 percent support while the Green Party, their prospective coalition partner, fell to 13 percent from 14 percent.

The anti-capitalist Left Party held at 8 percent support.

Forsa polled 1,003 people on Dec. 20-21. The margin of error was as high as 3 percentage points.

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