Lower Saxony Opposition Lead Shrinks in Poll Amid Gains by FDP

Support for a possible alliance of Germany’s Social Democrats and Greens is shrinking in the state of Lower Saxony less than three weeks before an election, an Infratest Dimap monthly poll for NDR television showed.

Combined support for the opposition parties, which seek to replace a coalition government of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the Free Democrats, fell one percentage point to 47 percent while backing for the CDU and the FDP rose one point to 44 percent, the poll showed. While the FDP gained one point to 4 percent, that would still leave it below the 5-percent threshold for parliamentary representation, NDR said.

Still, 42 percent of respondents said they would like to see the FDP back in parliament after the Jan. 20 election, an increase of 2 percentage points. Support for a future SPD-Green government dropped 4 points to 52 percent, while 32 percent said they would like the current CDU-FDP government to continue, a 4-point gain from a month ago.

FDP chairman Philipp Roesler’s political career may hinge on the party’s election result in Lower Saxony, his home state with more than 6 million voters. The FDP leader, who rules together with Merkel at national level, declined to tell Bild-Zeitung, Germany’s biggest-selling newspaper, whether he’ll run again for party chairman at a May 3-5 congress in Nuremberg, saying he wants to await the Lower Saxony result.

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

Outcome Open

The outcome of the state election is open as 56 percent of respondents said they have decided which party to vote for while 16 percent are undecided. Twenty-eight percent said they may not vote. Infratest interviewed 1,000 people between Dec. 28 and Jan. 2. The poll had a margin of error of as much as 3.1 percentage points.

In the last Lower Saxony election in 2008, the CDU garnered 42.5 percent, compared with 30.3 percent for the SPD, 8.2 percent for the FDP, 8 percent for the Greens and 7.1 percent for the Left party.

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