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Oh no Angela! Merkel’s party slumps in polls with hapless successor Laschet under pressure

Merkel departure would have ‘major impact’ on EU says Butikofer

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Mrs Merkel is due to step down next month – and the INSA poll suggests the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) is opening up a lead over Mrs Merkel’s party. Support for the SPD rose two points from last week to 24 percent, their highest result in four years according to the poll conducted for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

The CDU slipped one point to 21 percent, their lowest ever polled by INSA.

Germany goes to the polls on September 26 when Mrs Merkel makes way after 16 years in office and four straight national election victories.

Her imminent departure has weakened support for her conservative alliance.

It was the second survey in the last week which 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.

The bloc’s candidate for chancellor, CDU chairman Armin Laschet, has been under fire since he was caught on camera laughing during a visit last month to a town hit by floods.

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In a hypothetical direct vote for Chancellor, the INSA poll showed that the SPD’s candidate, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, would take 31 percent of the vote, compared with 10 percent for Mr Laschet and 14 percent for the Greens candidate, Annalena Baerbock.

The three candidates are due to hold a televised debate this.

Despite the SPD’s lead in the polls, they would still need to team up with two other parties to govern, prompting a discussion about which possible coalition partners would be acceptable.

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Mr Scholz declined to rule out teaming up with the far-left Linke in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, although he said any government must commit itself to NATO membership.

The Linke, currently polling on about six percent, calls for the abolition of NATO in its election manifesto.

Bavarian premier Markus Soeder, who has rejected calls to replace Mr Laschet as the conservative candidate, warned that Germany would shift to the left under a SPD-led government.

He said he hoped the debate will help Mr Laschet turn the tide.

He told ARD television: “Mr Laschet can become Chancellor and would do a good job of leading Germany.”

Mr Laschet cast doubt on the commitment of both the SPD and Greens to support the military, saying at an event on Saturday that they had blocked measures in the past to protect soldiers.

Separately speaking on BILD Live today, CDU Vice President Friedrich Merz (65) criticised Mrs Merkel latest plan to only allow vaccinated, tested and recovered people on board long-distance trains of Deutsche Bahn.

Extending this rule to trains was “somewhat out of touch with everyday life”, Mr Merz, a long-time political opponent of Mrs Merkel, claimed.

He added: “Millions of commuters at the major train stations in Berlin, Cologne and Düsseldorf would have to be asked in the morning before they get on the train whether they have been tested, have recovered or have been vaccinated.”

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