Support for German SPD drops to half that of Merkel’s bloc

Andrea Nahles is the leader of the SPD. (Reuters pic)

BERLIN: Support for Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), the country’s oldest party, has slumped to half that of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives just two weeks after the left-leaning party elected a new leader, a poll showed on Sunday.

The SPD suffered its worst showing in last September’s national election since Germany became a republic in 1949, and only reluctantly agreed to go into coalition with Merkel again in March after a divisive internal debate.

Two weeks ago, the SPD elected Andrea Nahles as their first female leader, hoping she could reinvigorate the party.

However, the survey by pollster Emnid for the Bild am Sonntag weekly showed support for the SPD dropping one percentage point to 17%.

Support for Merkel’s conservative bloc, made up of her Christian Democratic Union and their Bavarian allies the Christian Social Union, rose by two points to 34%.

Third-strongest, unchanged on 14 points, was the far-right Alternative for Germany, which surged into parliament for the first time at last year’s election as voters vented their anger at Merkel’s handling of the 2015 refugee crisis.

The Emnid poll put support for the environmentalist Greens at 12 points, unchanged, and for the far-left Left party at 10 points, down by one. The business-friendly Free Democrats also shed one point, falling to 8 points, the poll showed.

Emnid surveyed 1,507 voters between April 26 and May 2.