BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s rival in upcoming elections won a slight boost from a prime-time TV faceoff with her but his center-left party still trails her conservatives, a new poll showed Wednesday.
Less than three weeks until ballot day, Peer Steinbrueck’s Social Democrats booked a one-percentage-point rise to 23 percent, according to the Forsa poll conducted before and after the TV debate.
Support for Steinbrueck and his party surged the most Monday, Forsa said, the day after he and Merkel crossed swords on issues such as the economy, pensions, jobs, Syria and the NSA scandal, in front of more than 17 million viewers.
The poll also showed 23 percent of German voters would choose Steinbrueck if they could vote directly for a chancellor – a two-point rise from a week earlier – but still far behind the 55 percent approval rating for Merkel.
Among still undecided voters, 44 percent saw Steinbrueck as the winner of the TV battle, while Merkel won over 38 percent, Forsa head Manfred Guellner said in a statement.
Merkel and her present coalition nevertheless retain their strong lead in the poll. Her conservatives scored 40 percent, one point less than a week earlier, while her junior coalition partners, the Free Democrats, garnered 5 percent, giving the current government a combined 45 percent.
The SPD’s preferred allies, the ecologist Greens, scored 11 percent, meaning their potential coalition is trailing with a combined 34 percent.
The far-left Linke party, which has roots in East German communism, grabbed 9 percent, but Steinbrueck has excluded governing with the party.
And the anti-euro party Alternative for Germany, created in February, scored its best showing in the Stern-RTL poll, rising to 4 percent, albeit still below the 5-percent threshold for seats in parliament.
The poll was conducted for Stern news weekly and RTL public television between Aug. 27 and Sept. 2 among 2,502 people.