September 7, 2005

German election race tightens after TV debate

BERLIN (Reuters) - The gap between Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD) and Angel Merkel's Christian
Democrats (CDU) has narrowed slightly since the two clashed in
a TV debate, a poll showed Wednesday.

An opinion poll by TNS Emnid for the Berliner Morgenpost
daily showed the gap between the two sides at 10 percentage
points for the first time since the campaign began, with the
SPD on 32 percent and Merkel's CDU and Christian Social Union
(CSU) sister party on a combined 42 percent.

Despite the narrowing, the survey showed that Merkel would
still be able to win a parliamentary majority with her
preferred coalition partners, the liberal Free Democrats (FDP).
One has to go back nearly a month, to August 11, to find a poll
that shows her short of a majority with the FDP.

In the Emnid poll, the FDP and Greens parties stood at 7
percent, while the new Left Party came in at 9 percent.

At a combined 49 percent, support for the CDU/CSU and FDP
exceeded the combined 48 percent of the SPD, Greens and Left
and was thus good enough for a majority.

Emnid conducted its poll of 4,058 voters between August 29
and September 5. The television debate, which snap polls showed
Schroeder won but which was deemed a stalemate by several
leading newspapers, took place on Sunday, September 4.