The Social Democrats are entering their convention weekend 14 points behind their main rivals, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats. In Dortmund on Sunday, SPD members will finalize the party's platform.
Ahead of their convention to determine a platform for the 2017 Bundestag elections, few members of the Social Democrats (SPD) will take comfort in a poll released Friday by public broadcaster ZDF. According to the survey, the party has just 25 percent support - well behind Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), with 39 percent. As before, the chancellor also whups her SPD challenger, Martin Schulz (pictured), in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, 58 percent to 31 percent.
The Left - the third strongest of Germany's main political parties and the SPD's potential partners in an increasingly unlikely three-way center-to-left coalition with the Greens - has 9 percent. The Greens hold 8 percent, according to the poll.
The numbers don't add up to a majority, which could result in the adaptable Greens abandoning ship for a coalition on the political right with the CDU and Free Democrats. The laissez-faire capitalist FDP also have 8 percent, which leaves them and the Greens tied and a point ahead of the far-right Alternative for Germany.
An ambitious agenda?
Flailing just three months before the elections, the SPD is tainted by its alliance for the past four years with the CDU and its more conservative Bavarian sibling party, the Christian Social Union. Tacking left to differentiate itself, the SPD appears set to try to appeal to potential voters who may have felt excluded by the government of the past four years.
The SPD has announced a push for marriage equality, but unlike the Greens has not set that out as a condition of talks to form a government. As the CDU's junior party in a grand coalition for the past four years, the SPD had not forced the issue. Seventy-three percent of Germans support marriage equality, according to the ZDF survey released Friday.
The party pledged better support for families with young children, including eventually abolishing kindergarten fees, and plans to renovate schools to ensure that all are up to modern standards and to enshrine children's rights in Germany's constitution. The SPD would lower the voting age to 16.
Climate policy is covered in the SPD's plan for "peace policy and expression of international solidarity."
"By 2020, we will reduce Germany's CO2 emissions by at least 40 percent compared with 1990, and by 2050 we will achieve the highest level of greenhouse gas neutrality possible," the party document said.
As a further effort to set forth a foreign policy agenda, the SPD has pledged to "secure Europe's external borders" in order to prevent displaced people from arriving in large numbers.
mkg/sms (Reuters, AFP, kna, dpa)