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A Clash With Merkel May Have Backfired on Coalition Partner

(Bloomberg) — Taking on German Chancellor Angela Merkel failed to give her long-suffering coalition partner any sort of a bump in the polls.

Support for the Social Democrats fell in a weekly Forsa poll, matching an all-time low of 11%, after the party chose two Merkel critics as leaders. That choice, coupled with policy demands that would ease years of fiscal discipline under Merkel, prompted speculation the SPD might leave her government and trigger a political crisis.

Yet the new Social Democratic leaders backed off at a party convention on Friday, signaling they’ll stay in the government for now.

Merkel’s governing Christian Democrat-led bloc rose 1 percentage point to 28% in the Forsa poll, while the opposition Green party was unchanged in second place at 22%. The nationalist Alternative for Germany, which rose 1 point to 14%, polled third.

The Dec. 2-6 poll of 2,502 eligible voters for broadcasters RTL and n-tv has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 points.

Merkel’s coalition with the Social Democrats is her third since she took office in 2005, but it’s been the most fraught. The 65-year-old German leader has said she won’t run again after completing her fourth term, which ends in 2021.

Another poll published Sunday by Emind for newspaper Bild am Sonntag showed the Social Democrats gaining one point to 16%, with the Christian Democrats unchanged at 28%. The poll of 1,876 eligible voters was conducted between Nov. 27 and Dec. 4.

(Updates with poll from Sunday in last paragraph.)

–With assistance from Patrick Henry.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jan-Patrick Barnert in Frankfurt at jbarnert3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Beth Mellor at bmellor@bloomberg.net, Tony Czuczka, James Ludden

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