Germany’s Greens Slump, Dimming SPD Chances of Unseating Merkel

Germany’s Greens party plummeted to a four-year low in a weekly poll, undermining efforts by Peer Steinbrueck’s Social Democrats to unseat Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The SPD-allied Greens dropped two points to 9 percent, their lowest level since March 2009, according to a Forsa poll published today in Stern magazine. That offsets a two-point gain by the SPD to 25 percent, underscoring a bounce for the party in the week after the campaign’s only televised debate.

The poll showed Merkel has a narrow majority with her current coalition. Her Christian Democratic-led bloc dropped a point to 39 percent, while her Free Democratic partner gained a point to 6 percent. Forsa surveyed 2,500 voters Sept. 3-9 and had a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

Eleven days before the Sept. 22 election, polls show the popular chancellor still in position to lead a third government. The decline of the Greens would buttress Merkel’s position in coalition talks, either with the FDP or for a “grand coalition” with the SPD. Merkel’s first government from 2005 to 2009 was a coalition with the SPD.

“Steinbrueck’s performance in the election debate was a wake-up call for Merkel but he’s still not gaining enough traction,” Jan Techau, director of the Brussels office of the Carnegie Endowment, said in a telephone interview. No other debates are planned before Election Day. Steinbrueck will take part in a 75-minute town hall style interview on ARD television starting today at 8:15 p.m.

Merkel Slips

In a personal contest between Merkel and Steinbrueck, the chancellor lost three points to 52 percent, while the SPD candidate gained three to 26 percent, Forsa showed. This was Forsa’s first survey taken after the Sept. 1 debate.

The drop for the Greens marks a reversal of fortune for the environmental party compared with a surge in support following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Forsa registered a high of 28 percent for the Greens in April 2011.

Forsa’s managing director, Manfred Guellner, told Stern the Greens’ slump is due to their campaign for social justice, which “doesn’t fit them,” and calls for tax increases.

Merkel has also pounced on a Green proposal to mandate a no-meat “veggie day” in school and work cafeterias, targeting the idea in most of her election rally speeches.

“Do you need a recommendation when you’re allowed to eat meat and when not? You won’t get that from us,” Merkel told a campaign rally in Luebeck on Aug. 16.

In contrast, the SPD has managed to at least partially achieve its objective of winning back voters who voted for the party in the past, according to Guellner.

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