Germany's Social Democrats overtake Merkel's bloc in poll

Dr Angela Merkel and Mr Olaf Scholz during a session of the German Bundestag in Berlin on Aug 25, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BERLIN (BLOOMBERG) - Germany's Social Democrats rose to an almost four-year high in a weekly poll, adding to evidence that they are pulling ahead of Chancellor Angela Merkel's bloc before a national election on Sept 26.

Insa's poll is the third to show Dr Merkel's conservatives now lagging the Social Democrats, who may be set for a remarkable comeback after almost ending up as an opposition party four years ago.

Support for the Social Democratic Party increased two percentage points to 24 per cent, the most since September 2017, when the last election was held.

Support for Dr Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the CSU, its Bavarian regional ally, declined one point to 21 per cent, reaching a record low in the Insa poll for the second week in a row.

Dr Merkel is not seeking a fifth term after 16 years in office, a decision that is hurting her party.

With CDU leader Armin Laschet heading the conservatives' ticket, only 49 per cent of those who voted for them in 2017 intend to do so this year, according to the poll published by Bild am Sonntag.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, the Social Democratic candidate for chancellor, leads Mr Laschet by 21 points in a gauge of personal popularity compiled by Insa.

That contrasts with Dr Merkel's record of regularly topping the approval rankings for German politicians over the years.

Mr Scholz, Mr Laschet and the Greens' Annalena Baerbock were set to square off in a televised debate later on Sunday (Aug 29).

It is a critical clash with just four weeks of campaigning left.

In the Insa poll, the Green party and the Free Democrats were unchanged at 17 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively.

The nationalist Alternative for Germany declined one point to 11 per cent, while the anti-capitalist Left party also lost one point, falling to 6 per cent.

Currently, five three-way alliances are possible to form a ruling coalition, four of them with the SPD at the helm.

The Aug 23-27 party preference poll of 1,247 people has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 points.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.