BERLIN German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) are running neck-and-neck ahead of national elections, though one poll on Wednesday showed a surge in support for the SPD was easing.
Both Merkel, who will seek a fourth term as chancellor in the September ballot, and the SPD are hoping to end their governing coalition and form a new administration with smaller allies.
An Ipsos poll released Wednesday showed a one percentage point gain for the conservative bloc to 33 percent, while the SPD, the junior partner in government, dropped one percentage point to 29 percent.
Ipsos said a surge in support for the SPD after it nominated former European Parliament president Martin Schulz as its candidate for chancellor in the Sept. 24 election appeared to be waning.
"The Schulz effect is clearly wearing off," wrote the pollsters.
But a poll by the Forsa institute for Stern magazine showed support for the SPD edging higher to 32 percent, one percentage point behind the conservatives.
Forsa put its margin of error at 2.5 percentage points, putting the CDU/CSU bloc and the SPD neck-and-neck.
The Ipsos poll showed a one percentage point gain for both the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), to 6 percent, and the pro-environmental Green party, to 8 percent. The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party lost one percentage point to 11 percent.
The poll surveyed 1,058 people in Germany from March 3-6.
The Forsa institute, which polled 2,500 voters last week, put the AfD down one percentage point at 8 percent, while support for the Greens and the Left party were unchanged at 8 percent and 7 percent, respectively.
Forsa said the FDP lost one percentage point to 6 percent, just above the 5 percent threshold needed to enter parliament.
Based on the results, the SPD could form a coalition government with the Greens and the Left, Forsa head Manfred Guellner said, as the parties' combined score of 47 percent would translate into a slim parliamentary majority.
Schulz has promised to combat job insecurity and old-age poverty by reducing temporary work contracts and rolling back some of the 'Agenda 2010' labour reforms enacted by the last SPD-led government.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber and Andrea Shalal; editing by John Stonestreet)