Poll: Schulz goes in lockstep with Merkel

Poll: Schulz goes in lockstep with MerkelMartin Schulz, Angela Merkel’s main rival for the post of German chancellor in upcoming elections, is as personally popular as she is, according to the latest poll.

A survey conducted by the German pollster ARD and published on Wednesday found that if the federal elections in September allowed voters to directly elect their chancellor, Merkel, who is standing as the candidate for her CDU/CSU party, and Schulz, for the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), would each receive 41 percent support.

The elections are in fact a parliamentary vote that will see voters supporting parties, not individuals. Schulz’s SPD is trailing Merkel’s CDU/CSU by around 15 percent in polls.

But Wednesday’s survey highlight’s Schulz’s personal popularity, suggesting he may have a chance to boost his struggling party.

Elsewhere in the survey, 64 percent of German voters, and 81 percent of followers of the SPD, thought Schulz was right to stand as his party’s candidate.

The SPD nominated former European Parliament president Schulz on Tuesday to run against Merkel in the September election after Sigmar Gabriel said he would stand aside to boost the party's chances. Schulz will officially be appointed leader on Sunday.

Both he and Merkel face a tough election, after almost four years of a “grand coalition” between their parties, and against a backdrop of rising support for the hard-right Alternative For Germany (AFD) party.
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