Merkel victory in doubt as gaffes erode support

A survey conducted by Germany's Infratest Dimap organisation showed that Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats and their prospective liberal Free Democrat coalition partners would win only 48 per cent of the vote in the September election. It is the the first poll to show Mrs Merkel's coalition falling short of a majority since she announced her decision to run for Chancellor.

Yesterday's poll showed the conservatives and liberals were running neck and neck with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's ruling Social Democrats and Greens and the country's recently formed radical left-wing "Left Party", which were also predicted to win a combined total of 48 per cent.

The survey's finding ended nearly two months in which Germany's conservative CDU had maintained a seemingly unassailable lead over its competitors and appeared on track to win the election. The bad news was compounded at the weekend by other polls which showed that more than 50 per cent of Germans would not welcome a change of government after the elections and that in a straight choice for the job of Chancellor, irrespective of party, Mr Schröder remained the clear favourite by 8 per cent.

Despite an extensive image overhaul, Mrs Merkel has lost ground to Mr Schröder because of weak television interviews, a confusing election programme and embarrassing slip-ups over terminology.

Last week, Mrs Merkel was criticised in the media for confusing net and gross income figures during a campaign speech. She was also made to appear no match for Mr Schröder after she refused to take part in more than one American-style television debate with the Chancellor. By contrast, Mr Schröder has appeared frequently on prime-time television to answer questions from political and business critics, the jobless and other aggrieved members of the public. He has appeared convincing despite his government's abysmal record on tackling unemployment.

His coalition still has little chance of being re-elected in September. Prospects for both parties, in particular the SPD, have suffered dramatically since the emergence of the Left Party headed by "Red" Oskar Lafontaine, the renegade former SPD leader and ex-German finance minister.

Opinion polls suggest the Left Party stands to win between 11 and 12 per cent nationwide and can count on the support of 33 per cent of voters in Germany's unemployment-plagued east. Although a handful of SPD members have called for an alliance with the Left Party after the election, Mr Schröder and his Green coalition partners have categorically rejected the idea.

The realisation, that the SPD's only realistic chance of remaining in office after the election may lie in a joint administration with the conservatives, prompted calls by leading members of Mr Schröder's government yesterday for a grand coalition government with the CDU. Predictably, these suggestions were angrily dismissed yesterday by Germany's smaller parties, which would stand to lose most from a grand coalition. Mr Schröder and Mrs Merkel also rejected debate on the issue as premature. However, some observers said that if the Left Party gained seats in parliament after the election a grand coalition would be unavoidable.

"We should not have high hopes of a grand coalition," said Arnulf Baring, a historian. "The SPD and CDU would be at loggerheads and this would stand in the way of attempts to consolidate policy," he added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Two christmas trees ,Moonbeam (2L), Moonchester (2R) and Santa Claus outside the Etihad Stadium
footballAll the action from today's games
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas