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Most Germans expect Merkel coalition to last to 2021, poll shows

BERLIN (Reuters) - Almost three-quarters of Germans expect the ruling coalition government to last until the end of the current legislative period in 2021 and believe it would be good for Chancellor Angela Merkel to serve until then, a poll showed on Thursday.

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The survey by pollster Forschungsgruppe Wahlen (FGW) for ZDF showed that 72% of the 1,270 voters questioned from Monday to Wednesday believed the coalition would last until 2021, up from 60% in June.

FGW conducted the poll directly after elections in two eastern states on Sunday, where Merkel’s conservatives and their Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners weathered a far-right battering.

The results gave them a reprieve, easing concern the SPD would pull out of the national coalition to rebuild its flagging support in opposition. The poll showed 73% of voters believed it would be good for Merkel to stay until 2021.

Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and the SPD clung on as the largest parties in Saxony and Brandenburg respectively, but bled support to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which came second in both states.

Merkel, who is trying to stage-manage her slow exit from politics, stood aside as CDU leader in December, when her protege, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, took over as party leader.

The FGW poll showed just 19% of those surveyed believed Kramp-Karrenbauer, who has made several gaffes since taking over the CDU, would successfully lead the party into the future.

The coalition’s immediate fate lies in the lands of the SPD, which is languishing in polls and in the throes of an existential crisis. FGW put support for the SPD at 15%, way below Merkel’s conservatives, on 28%, and the Greens, on 24%.

Many SPD members are fed up with their party’s propping up Merkel, who has led Europe’s biggest economy for the last 14 years, 10 of them with the SPD. They want the party to reinvent themselves in opposition.

The SPD, which is selecting a new leader, will review its role in government by the end of the year. The pressure to quit eased by coming first on Sunday in Brandenburg, which the party has run since German reunification in 1990.

Writing by Paul Carrel, editing by Larry King