Germany's Merkel lacks centre-right majority: poll

BERLIN Thu Sep 3, 2009 8:40am EDT

German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) delivers her speech during an election campaign rally in Neumuenster September 1, 2009. REUTERS/Christian Charisius

German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) delivers her speech during an election campaign rally in Neumuenster September 1, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Christian Charisius

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Support for Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives has dipped to a three-month low of 34 percent in a new poll, a level which leaves them short of a parliamentary majority with their preferred coalition partners.

The survey from the Emnid polling group was the first to fully take into account the results of German regional elections on Sunday, in which Merkel's party suffered steep losses in two states.

It is also the first in many months to show her conservative bloc -- the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) -- unable to form a governing majority with the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP).

Merkel wants to partner with the FDP after the September 27 federal vote to push down taxes and reverse a phase-out of Germany's nuclear plants.

The poll, for the private N24 television station, is likely to increase nervousness in her camp that a center-right government may not be possible.

In 2005, Merkel had also hoped to seal a coalition with the FDP but saw her support dip in the weeks before the vote, forcing her into a "grand coalition" with the rival Social Democrats (SPD).

The Emnid poll suggests another awkward right-left coalition could result later this month.

It gives her conservatives 34 percent, down one point from a poll released earlier this week and their worst score since early June, and has the FDP steady on 14 percent.

The poll shows support for the SPD rising two points to 26 percent and the environmentalist Greens and far-left "Linke," or Left party, each on 11 percent -- matching the 48 percent total of the center-right parties.

On Sunday, Merkel's conservatives managed to retain power in the eastern state of Saxony, but saw their support fall sharply in Saarland and Thuringia, both states where her party had ruled alone for the past decade.

Dieter Althaus, the long-serving state premier of Thuringia and one of Merkel's top conservative allies in the east, resigned on Thursday in response to the election setback.

(Writing by Noah Barkin; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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