Angela Merkel's party falls behind Germany's centre-left opposition SPD for first time in a decade

A new poll shows the CDU is trailing the SPD

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Monday 06 February 2017 15:36
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel’s CDU political party has fallen into second place behind Germany’s centre-left opposition for the first time in a decade, according to a new poll.

The survey, carried out by pollsters INSA for Germany’s Bild newspaper, found Ms Merkel’s Christian democrats on 30 per cent, down three from the previous poll.

The German Social Democratic Party (SPD), which is the junior partner in the ruling CDU-SPD coalition government but which has trailed Ms Merkel’s party in the polls for years, was meanwhile up four points to 31 per cent – putting it just slightly ahead.

A German election polling average maintained by German newspaper Der Spiegel has not had the SPD ahead on average since late 2006.

Though only the findings of a single poll, the latest results appear to be a symbolic watershed moment in Germany politics, which Ms Merkel has dominated for over a decade.

The findings of a significant boost for the SPD are also corroborated by another poll conducted by Emnid for Bild am Sonntag. That survey recorded a six-point jump for the SPD, reportedly the biggest ever for the party in a single poll by that firm.

The shifting electoral landscape comes just months ahead of crunch German Federal elections in September of this year – raising the possibility that Ms Merkel could be ousted as Chancellor after six months of Brexit negotiations.

The boost to the SPD’s fortunes appears to have been prompted by the appointment of Martin Schulz, former European Parliament President, to the party’s leadership.

Mr Schulz has publicly presented a more hard-line approach again Britain and Brexit than Ms Merkel, having accused top Tories of having left “rubble behind them in a bid to fuel their personal ambitions”. He has also said that Brussels would need to “defend the interests of its citizens, just as the UK will do”.

The Chancellor Ms Merkel has survived in part by adopting the policies of her opponents whenever they appear to be on the verge of finding a chink in her armour – posing the possibility that she might adopt Mr Schulz’s more hardline anti-Brexit approach.

The German federal elections come five months after France picks its new President. The final round of that contest is likely to be between a centre-right candidate and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

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