SPD seen beating Merkel’s conservatives in election

BERLIN: Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) would beat Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives if an election was held today, a poll said on Monday, showing the centre-left party was still building on positive momentum after electing Martin Schulz as leader.
The SPD, Merkel’s junior coalition partner, has been trailing the conservatives for years in opinion polls and last won an election under Gerhard Schroeder in 2002. The poll by INSA for Bild newspaper put the SPD on 31 per cent, and the conservatives on 30 per cent.
The populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) was projected third with 12 per cent, followed by the hard-left Die Linke on 10 per cent.
Meanwhile, Merkel ruled outimposing a ceiling for the number of refugees Germany will take should she win September elections, highlighting a key differences in her conservative political bloc regarding asylum seekers.
“I do not intend to change the position here,” Merkel told a press conference in Munich after her Christian Democrats’ (CDU) Bavarian-based allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), agreed to back her as their common chancellor candidate at the election.
Monday’s agreement between the CDU and CSU to draw up a common party election platform with Merkel as their standard-bearer is also aimed at heading off a new surge in support for the Social Democrats (SPD).
But, despite the attempt by Merkel and CSU leader Horst Seehofer to present a united front at Monday’s press conference, their two parties failed to bridge their differences on imposing a limit on refugees.
The sharp rise in support for the SPD comes after the left-leaning party surprised the nation’s political establishment by nominating former European Parliament president Martin Schulz to lead the party in the September 24 election.
Merkel said she respected her new SPD challenger.