Merkel's Party in Dead Heat With SPD as Schulz Sustains Momentum

  • Rival parties neck-and-neck despite big CDU win in Saarland
  • Germany holds two more state votes before Sept. 24 election

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic-led bloc remained in a dead heat with her Social Democratic coalition partner nationally just over a week after her party scored a decisive victory in a state election, a poll showed.

Support for Merkel’s Christian Democrats and their Bavarian CSU sister party was unchanged at 32 percent, while the SPD gained half a percentage point to 32.5 percent, according to a weekly INSA poll published Tuesday in Bild newspaper.

The poll suggests the Social Democratic challenge is undiminished after the March 26 upset in Saarland, where the CDU scored a clear victory that defied pre-election polls showing a tight race. The show of support for Merkel in Saarland, a region of just under a million people that borders France, blunted the surge for the SPD since Martin Schulz was installed as the party’s candidate to become chancellor in the federal election in September.

Last month’s state ballot was the first of three regional contests in the run-up to the Sept. 24 election. The most important of those takes place on May 14 in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state and a Social Democratic stronghold. Polls suggest the current SPD coalition with the Greens will struggle to be re-elected without the co-operation of either the liberal Free Democrats or the anti-capitalist Left party.

The INSA poll added to the trend showing support fading for the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, which dropped two points to 9 percent, its weakest result since October 2015. The Greens held steady at 6.5 percent, while the Left and the pro-business Free Democrats each climbed a half point, to 9 percent and 6.5 percent respectively.

INSA polled 2,033 people between March 31 and April 4. No margin of error was given.

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