Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives continue to lead in the opinion polls ahead of next month's general election, and they appear on course to form the next government with their preferred partners.
Merkel wants to ditch her grand coalition partners
Results of an opinion poll published on Wednesday give the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), combined with their Bavaria-based sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), 38 percent of the vote.
This was an increase of one percentage point over the previous week.
The Berlin-based Forsa institute has been conducting weekly surveys ahead of the September 27 elections, and this week's poll indicated that the conservatives have enough support to win a parliamentary majority along with their preferred partners, the Free Democrats (FDP), on 13 percent.
Social Democrats lagging
There was little reason for optimism for the Social Democrats (SPD) led by the foreign minister and candidate for chancellor, Frank Walter Steinmeier. Although support for the SPD inched up by one percentage point over the previous Forsa poll, it was still trailing with just 21 percent of the vote.
The main rivals to the conservative bloc, the Social Democrats are currently partners in the governing grand coalition.
Merkel has criticized Steinmeier's pledge to create four million jobs
The SPD's favored partners, the Greens, polled 12 percent, which would give their alliance just 33 percent. The Left party polled 11 percent. However, Steinmeier on Tuesday ruled out working with it after the election.
The Social Democrats have been struggling to catch up with Chancellor Merkel's conservatives. After four years of what has been frequently described as an uneasy coalition, both Merkel and Steinmeier have said they would like to see an end to the status quo.
Talking to reporters in Berlin on Tuesday, Steinmeier put on a brave face, saying recent surveys indicated that 60 per cent of the electorate had not yet made up their mind.
However the SPD candidate admitted that his party's ratings were not ideal. "Better ratings would be nice, there is no question about that," Steinmeier said.
Forsa's latest results were based on a survey of the preferences of 2,500 voters conducted between August 3 and 7.
Editor: Chuck Penfold