Support for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition rose to the highest level since January 2010 in a weekly Forsa poll, as her junior partner showed signs of recovery less than six months before German national elections.
Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc rose one percentage point to 41 percent in the poll for Hamburg-based Stern magazine and RTL television released today. Her Free Democratic coalition partner had 6 percent, also up one point and the fourth straight week it has been above the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats in parliament. With a combined 47 percent, Merkel has a clear majority for the first time in more than three years.
The Free Democrats have “a potential vote share of 8 percent to 12 percent,” and “as the news surrounding the party gets better, more of these people will return,” Jan Techau, director of the Brussels center of the Carnegie Endowment, said by phone. Merkel meanwhile is “strong, she’s in control and she has the party behind her. She’s not a spent force.”
With political maneuvering under way before the Sept. 22 vote, the main opposition Social Democratic Party struggles with an unpopular lead candidate, Peer Steinbrueck, and strong public backing for Merkel’s handling of the euro-area crisis. The SPD is preparing for an April 14 convention in Augsburg, Bavaria, at which delegates will vote on the party’s election platform.
The SPD, which governed in a so-called grand coalition with Merkel’s CDU/CSU in her first term from 2005 to 2009, dropped a point to 23 percent in the poll, the same level as its historic low in the last election in September 2009. Its traditional Green Party ally had 14 percent, also down a point.
‘In Good Hands’
“If the SPD had a charismatic chancellor candidate then Merkel would be regarded more critically,” Forsa chief Manfred Guellner was quoted by Stern as saying. As it is, with Merkel in charge, “people have the feeling that they’re in good hands,” he said. “A rerun of the coalition now looks possible, something that was doubtful for a long time.”
Even with the anti-capitalist Left Party, which gained a point to 9 percent, the three opposition parties have a combined score of 46 percent, one point short of Merkel’s coalition. The SPD and Greens say they won’t form a coalition with the Left Party, which is the successor to former East Germany’s communists.
Forsa polled 2,002 voters on April 2-5. The results have a margin of error of as much as 2.5 percentage points.