November 12, 2017 / 1:44 PM / a month ago

Support for Merkel's conservatives falls to 6-yr low ahead of crunch coalition talks

* Poll shows support for CDU/CSU bloc down at 30 pct

* Party leaders meet on Sunday to assess talks progress

* Greens step up pressure on other parties to move

* Breakdown of talks could lead to fresh elections

By Michael Nienaber

BERLIN, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Support for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives has fallen to the lowest level in more than six years, according to a poll on Sunday, as they prepare for more talks on a coalition deal with the environmentalist Greens and a pro-business party.

The weekly Emnid survey for Bild am Sonntag newspaper showed only 30 percent would vote for Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc if there were a federal election this Sunday, down 1 percentage point.

This is the lowest reading for the conservatives in this survey since October 2011 and marks a slump in support since the Sept. 24 election, in which Merkel’s bloc won 32.9 percent.

Merkel’s conservatives, who bled support to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the election, are trying to forge a three-way coalition government with Greens and the pro-market Free Democrats (FDP) - an alliance untested at the national level.

At a meeting later on Sunday party leaders are expected to discuss progress made so far in exploratory talks and try to overcome their remaining differences over climate, immigration and euro zone policy.

The meeting is due to start at 1500 GMT in Berlin and no statements are planned after the talks.

While politicians from the CDU/CSU and the FDP have cited progress after three weeks of exploratory talks, senior Greens voiced frustration and stepped up the pressure on Merkel.

“We see no goodwill at all on Europe, foreign and domestic policy, on affordable housing and good working conditions, on transport and agriculture transition,” Greens co-leader Cem Ozdemir told Bild am Sonntag.

Touching on one of the thorniest issues, Merkel said on Saturday that Germany should lead the fight against climate change and cut emissions without destroying industrial jobs.

Merkel’s comments, made in her weekly podcast in the middle of talks on limiting global warming attended by about 200 nations in the western German city of Bonn, highlighted the dilemma facing the centre-right leader in the negotiations.

While the CDU/CSU and the FDP want to spare companies from additional burdens, the Greens want to spell out which measures the next government will implement for Germany to reach its 2020 goal of lowering emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels.

Due to strong economic growth and higher-than-expected immigration, Germany is at risk of missing its emissions target without any additional measures.

Merkel wants to have an agreement in principle by Nov. 16 on moving ahead to formal coalition negotiations to form a black-yellow-green government - also dubbed a “Jamaica coalition” because the parties’ colours match those of that country’s flag.

With less than a week to go, the exploratory coalition talks are not only complicated by the differences between the parties, but also by splits within the political parties themselves – especially within the conservatives and Greens.

A breakdown of the talks could mean fresh elections in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, since the Social Democrats (SPD) - the second biggest party - have made clear they have no appetite for joining another ‘grand coalition’ under Merkel. (Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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