A new opinion poll related to the campaign over who will replace German Chancellor Angela Merkel heated up on Sunday after results showed the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) opening up a bigger lead over Merkel’s conservatives.
Support for the SPD surged two points from last week to 24 percent, their highest result in four years according to the INSA poll conducted for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. The conservatives lost a point to 21 percent, their lowest ever polled.
Germany goes to the polls on Sept. 26, when Merkel steps down as chancellor after 16 years in office and four straight national election victories. Merkel’s imminent departure has weakened support for her conservative alliance.
It was the second survey in the last week that has put the SPD ahead. Support for Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), has been falling steadily in recent weeks.
In a hypothetical direct vote for chancellor, the INSA poll showed that the SPD’s candidate, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, would take 31% of the vote, compared to just 10% for Laschet and 14% for the Greens candidate Annalena Baerbock.
The three candidates are due to hold a televised debate on Sunday evening.
Despite the SPD’s lead in the polls, it would still need to team up with two other parties to govern, prompting a discussion about which possible coalition partners would be acceptable.
The Linke, currently polling on about 6%, calls for the abolition of NATO in its election manifesto.
Meanwhile, the Greens candidate Baerbock distanced herself from the Linke as a possible partner.
“The Linke has just pretty ruled itself out, as it was not even willing to support the Bundeswehr in rescuing German nationals and local forces from Afghanistan,” Baerbock told the newspapers of the Funke media group.