June 8, 2019 / 1:54 PM / 10 days ago

Merkel's conservatives hit new low, piling pressure on coalition

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives slumped to a record low and fell further behind the resurgent opposition Greens in a survey published on Saturday, reflecting growing disillusionment with the ruling coalition.

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, in Portsmouth, Britain, June 5, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Doubts are mounting that Merkel’s right-left alliance can last its full term until 2021, largely due to disarray within her Social Democrat (SPD) partners, and many experts now see increasing chances of a federal election next year.

The Forsa poll put the conservative bloc on 24%, down two points from a week ago.

The Social Democrats (SPD) remained stuck at their low of 12% - level with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) - a week after their leader quit because of a dismal performance in regional and European elections. Many members want to quit government and rebuild in opposition.

The Greens, buoyed by growing concern across Europe about climate change, which helped propel them to second place in European Parliament elections, remained the most popular party, on 27%.

“The Greens are benefiting from high voter mobilization, the self-destruction of the SPD and attempts by the conservatives to trump the Greens on climate protection,” said Forsa chief Manfred Guellner.

If Merkel’s coalition collapses, Germany faces the possibilities of a snap election, a minority government or an unwieldy alliance of three blocs.

Any of those scenarios would be likely to hasten the exit of Merkel, chancellor for almost 14 years, who has handed over the leadership of her Christian Democrats (CDU) to protege Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Merkel has said she will not stand again as chancellor of Europe’s biggest economy.

Kramp-Karrenbauer has failed to boost the CDU and in the Forsa poll, only 19% of respondents said they would back her as chancellor in a direct vote, two points down from a week ago.

The SPD have yet to decide how to elect their next leader and no one has yet stepped forward.

The weekly Der Spiegel ran a title story on Kevin Kuehnert, the hoody-wearing 29-year-old head of the SPD youth wing, a divisive figure who campaigned against the grand coalition last year and wants to shift the party to the left.

It quoted some party members as saying they would like him to stand as leader and others saying it would be madness.

The media-savvy Kuehnert is no stranger to controversy; last month he caused a storm by saying companies such as carmaker BMW should be taken into collective ownership.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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