Merkel’s Bloc Drops to Record Low Ahead of German Election

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Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party bloc slumped to an all-time low in a weekly German voter poll, while the Social Democrats rose to an almost four-year high ahead of the country’s Sept. 26 election.

Underpinning the SPD’s momentum is its candidate for chancellor, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who is more popular among voters than Armin Laschet, the contender for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union-led bloc. 

Support for the CDU and its Bavaria-based CSU affiliate declined 3 percentage points to 22%, leaving them level with the Social Democrats, who gained 2 points compared to last week, according to the Insa poll for Bild am Sonntag. The pro-business Free Democrats rose 1 point to 13% and the Green party declined 1 point to 17%.

Merkel’s Bloc Drops to Record Low Ahead of German Election

It was the Insa poll’s lowest support ever for the CDU-CSU, which is struggling to find its footing as Merkel prepares to leave office after 16 years as chancellor. The SPD polled the highest since December 2017, according to Bild am Sonntag.

Germany has mostly been governed by coalitions of parties since World War II and this year’s election -- and the CDU-CSU’s weakness -- is opening up a broad range of possible post-election combinations.

The Aug. 16-20 poll of 1,352 people has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

With all recent national polls suggesting the conservatives are at risk of losing their grip on power, Merkel jumped into the race on Saturday and called on her party to rally behind Laschet, whose campaign is also facing criticism within the CDU-CSU bloc. 

She pointed out that this year’s vote marks the first election in postwar Germany where an incumbent chancellor isn’t running for re-election. 

“The cards are being reshuffled,” Merkel said at a rally in Berlin. “This is worth fighting for.”

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