German Social Democrats steady just behind Merkel's conservatives - poll


 Reuters International

A supporter of Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz waves a flag during a traditional Ash Wednesday meeting in Vilshofen, Germany, March 1, 2017. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

(reuters_tickers)

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) remained steady at 32 percent support over the past week, one percentage point behind Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, according to a poll published on Wednesday.

The two parties, now partners in Merkel's 'grand coalition', have been running neck-and-neck in the polls since the SPD nominated former European Parliament president Martin Schulz as its candidate for chancellor in the Sept. 24 federal election.

The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) gained one percentage point to 9 percent, while the pro-environment Greens party dropped one percentage point to 7 percent, according to the Forsa poll of 2,505 voters carried out from March 6-10.

The Left party remained unchanged at 7 percent, while the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) was steady at 6 percent, according to the poll, which was conducted for Germany's Stern magazine and broadcaster RTL.

In a direct matchup, Merkel gained one percentage point to 39 percent support, compared to 36 percent for Schulz, the poll said.

Both Merkel, who is seeking a fourth term, and Schulz are hoping to end the current coalition and form a new government with smaller allies.

The Forsa poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Ralph Boulton)

Reuters

 Reuters International