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1ST LEAD Poll: German populists overtake centre-left SPD for first time By Georg Ismar, dpa

Europe
19.02.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Berlin (dpa) - Germany‘s right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has overtaken the Social Democratic Party (SPD) for the first time in a national opinion poll, just before the SPD begins a critical vote on whether to join a coalition government.

The latest INSA poll for the daily Bild newspaper found that only 15.5 per cent of voters would choose the centre-left SPD, a fall of 1.5 percentage points since the last poll, compared to 16 per cent for the AfD, a rise of one point.

The news will add to woes within the SPD, whose numbers have been in free fall since the 20.5 per cent it garnered in September‘s inconclusive national election, its worst result since 1949.

The SPD‘s leader at the time of the election, Martin Schulz, said that he would take his party into opposition and ruled out reforming the so-called grand coalition with Merkel‘s conservative bloc.

But when Merkel failed to form a coalition with the free-market liberal FDP and the environmentalist Greens, Schulz performed a U-turn and relaunched talks with Merkel and her Bavarian-based allies.

Further flip-flopping over whether to take a cabinet post led to Schulz stepping down as leader, leaving the weakened party in some disarray, especially over the coalition.

The party‘s youth wing in particular is opposed to a new coalition deal, saying the SPD needs to go into opposition and regroup.

The upstart AfD, founded in 2013 originally to protest EU monetary policies, has grown its support base rapidly, partly by exploiting dissatisfaction with Merkel over her decision to allow almost 1 million refugees to enter Germany in 2015-16.

The party entered the federal government for the first time in September, securing 12.6 per cent of the vote and 91 of the 709 seats in the Bundestag. It is also represented in all but one of the 16 state-level parliaments.

Merkel‘s bloc achieved 32 per cent in Monday‘s INSA poll, up two points. The FDP dropped 1.5 points to 9 per cent, while the Greens remained steady on 13 per cent. The far-left Die Linke (The Left) party saw its support fall by 0.5 points to 11 per cent.

 

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