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Merkel’s bid for fourth term in office unchallenged, poll says

A poll conducted ahead of the September 24 general elections in Germany suggests Chancellor Angela Merkel is poised for winning a fourth term in office.

The results of the weekly poll conducted by Forsa for RTL television and Stern magazine, released on Tuesday, showed Merkel’s ruling “Union”, a bloc of conservative CDU and CSU parties, had 36 percent of the voter support, the lowest since April and one percentage point down from last week.

A supporter of German Chancellor and Christian Democratic Union’s (CDU) main candidate Angela Merkel holds an election campaign flyer during an election rally in Wismar, northern Germany on September 19, 2017. (AFP photo)

The survey said support for SPD, the social democrats who challenge Merkel’s bid for a fourth term, was 23 percent, unchanged from the previous poll.

The two parties are followed by the far-left party Die Linke, with 10 percent, the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) and the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) both at nine percent, and the Greens at eight percent, Forsa said. The pollster added that 48 percent of voters would prefer Merkel to SPD leader Martin Schulz, who stood at 22 percent. Some 30 percent said neither was suitable to take Germany’s leadership role.

Billboards featuring German Chancellor and leader of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party Angela Merkel (R) and Martin Schulz, the leader of Germany’s social democratic SPD party and candidate for chancellor, are pictured in Berlin on September 17, 2017, a week before Germans head to the polls. (AFP photo)

The results show that Merkel is unchallenged in her bid to remain as chancellor but the question is with whom she would govern. The Union has been in a grand coalition with the SPD in the previous governments. Forsa anticipated a three-way “Jamaica” alliance of the conservatives, FDP and Greens, a nationwide untested formula which could lead to a stable majority in the next Bundestag lower house of parliament.

Merkel has seen a decline in her approval ratings over the past two years, mainly due to a decision at the beginning of 2015 to allow hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany. However, her message that the German economy needs to be rendered fit for the future by investing in digital technologies seems to have won hearts in the run-up to the parliamentary elections.

The AfD, a nationalist, anti-Islam party, has hugely capitalized on Merkel’s fall in several states. The party, compared by some senior officials with the Nazis, aims to become the first far-right group in the German parliament in more than half a century.

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