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Germany

Opposition Tops SPD in Key Poll

Three months before a likely German election, the opposition conservatives are far ahead of the ruling Social Democrats in polls. If the election were a popularity contest, challenger Angela Merkel would have to worry.

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Is she coming to claim his spot?

If the general election were to be held this coming Sunday, 44 percent of voters in Germany would throw their weight behind the opposition Christian Democratic Party and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union.

Only 27 percent would vote for Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s Social Democrats and 9 percent for their junior coalition partner, the Greens, a survey by the Electoral Research Group found.

However, the survey's other results should serve as a warning to the conservatives not to take victory for granted.

Gerhard Schröder und Angela Merkel

Schröder and Merkel are ready to fight

If Germans were simply to cast their ballots according to which candidate for chancellor they liked better, Merkel and Schröder would find themselves tied at 44 percent.

The bad news for Merkel is that her personal popularity rating have dropped four points since early June, while Schröder gained three points.

SPD tax policy a hit

The survey also found that 70 percent of Germans are responding positively to proposals by the SPD to hit the rich with new taxes.

Aktenkoffer mit Euroscheinen, thumbnail

Several SPD leaders have said they want to increase income taxes on those earning above 250,000 euros ($305,000) a year -- a policy the CDU rejects.

"I'm against any special tax of this sort," said Karl-Josef Laumann, a CDU executive member, on ZDF television. "We need these people for investments and creating jobs."

An equally large 70 percent of those polled said they oppose any further cuts to the country's social welfare and unemployment benefits system. The CDU has pledged to make even steeper cuts than Schröder has already made as part of his Agenda 2010.

While the latest survey is a further reflection on Germans' desire for strong leadership, it also delivered a general stab at all the mainstream parties now scrambling for support in September.

Forty percent of people questioned said that none of the main parties is trustworthy anymore. They also criticized leaders for lacking political vision beyond their respective legislative term.

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