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German Greens breathing down Merkel's neck in poll

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party meeting in Berlin, Germany June 2, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s ecologist Greens, fresh from a second-place result in May’s European Parliament elections, hit a record level in a poll published on Thursday which put them just one percentage point behind Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.

The result is the latest confirmation that Germany’s political spectrum is becoming increasingly fragmented, forcing politicians to cut unwieldy multi-party deals in order to form governments in national and regional parliaments.

According to the Forschungsgruppe Wahlen poll for ZDF television, the Greens were on 26%, their highest reading ever in a series running back to 1991. Merkel’s Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners were a distant third on 13%.

Complicated parliamentary arithmetic after the 2017 national elections forced parties into two rounds of coalition talks lasting over six months after an initial attempt to build a three-way alliance collapsed in acrimony.

The poll may raise pressure on the SPD, which last month failed to come first in an election in its stronghold city of Bremen, to end their national alliance with Merkel - a tie-up that has proved almost fatal to the party’s electoral prospects.

Many analysts believe the fragmentation is something Germany will have to learn to live with. In the early 1990s, the two main parties regularly accounted for 80 percent of the vote between them. Today, their combined score is half that figure.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Toby Chopra