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Merkel's popularity sinks

September 26, 2015

Several recent surveys have shown the popularity of Chancellor Angela Merkel sinking among German voters. But her conservatives would still win an election against other parties if it were to be held on Sunday.

Angela Merkel
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Malte Ossowski/SVEN SIMON

In one survey on the popularity of German politicians conducted by the news magazine "Spiegel," Merkel lost her top place to a Social Democrat member for the first time in this legislative period.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the SPD took over at the top of the ladder, while Merkel slithered down to fourth position, behind Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, a fellow Christian Democratic Union member, and President Joachim Gauck.

Sixty-three percent of respondents to the survey - five percentage points fewer than the last survey - thought that Merkel should still play "an important role" in future, as against 67 percent for Steinmeier.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Steinmeier is a trusted figure for many GermansImage: Reuters/F. Mahmood

Another Social Democrat, Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, climbed seven whole percentage points in voters' favor to reach fifth place in the survey.

Three other recent surveys, carried out by public-service broadcaster ZDF, news magazine "Stern" and private broadcaster RTL, also showed Merkel's popularity on the wane.

Conservatives still on top

ZDF's "Politikbarometer" showed Schäuble in first position on the list of most important German politicians, followed by Steinmeier, with Merkel again in fourth place.

But the survey, released on Friday, indicated that Merkel's CDU/CSU conservative bloc would still win an election if one were to be held on Sunday, taking 41 percent of the vote - half a percent less than it attained at the last poll. The SPD would glean an unchanged 26 percent, the survey suggested.

Respondents were also asked about Merkel's response to the refugee crisis. Here, 50 percent of respondents were of the opinion that she was doing a good job, while 43 percent thought the opposite. However, almost three-quarters of those asked had a positive opinion of her overall work.

Split on refugee policy

Another recent poll from Wednesday showed, however, that Germans living in eastern states were much more skeptical about Merkel's welcoming policy on refugees.

Only 31 percent of respondents in eastern states were in favor of her actions, as against 44 percent in the west, the survey for "Focus" magazine showed.

Overall, 48 percent of Germans were dissatisfied with the government's handling of the crisis, as against 41 percent who support Merkel's response, according to the poll.

tj/bk (KNA, AFP, dpa)