Social Democrats’ lead over Merkel bloc widens to record

German Finance Minister, Vice-Chancellor and the Social Democratic Party's (SPD) main candidate Olaf Scholz speaks during an election campaign event in Leipzig, on September 5, 2021.
(JENS SCHLUETER / AFP)

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats widened their lead over Germany’s conservatives to a record 6 percentage points in a weekly poll, setting the stage for the country’s second election debate on Sunday.

Support for the Social Democrats increased 1 point to 26 percent in the Insa poll for Bild am Sonntag, while Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic-led bloc stagnated at 20 percent and the Green party declined 1 point to 15 percent.

Support for the Social Democrats increased 1 point to 26 percent in the Insa poll for Bild am Sonntag, while Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic-led bloc stagnated at 20 percent and the Green party declined 1 point to 15 percent

It’s the latest sign of momentum for Scholz, who would be first in line to lead a post-Merkel government if the numbers hold up in the Sept 26 election.

The Free Democrats were unchanged at 13 percent, the nationalist Alternative for Germany party declined 1 point to 11 percent and the anti-capitalist Left party fell 1 point to 6 percent, according to the newspaper. 

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The electoral split opens up at least four governing coalitions as Germany looks to the era after Merkel, who isn’t seeking another term after 16 years in office. Scholz, Christian Democratic Union candidate Armin Laschet and Green contender Annalena Baerbock will face off on national television in the second of three pre-election debates on Sunday evening.

In a separate Insa poll of what’s motivating potential voters, climate change and retirement benefits ranked as the top election themes.

The SPD’s 6-point lead is the widest yet in the Insa poll. All national pollsters put the Social Democrats ahead of the conservatives, with the gap ranging from 7 percentage points to 2 points.

Insa’s Sept 6-10 party preference poll of 1,152 people has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. 

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