Survey shows Social Democrats in free fall

The Social Democrats have plummeted in a new opinion poll, as the centre-left party struggles to position itself against Germany’s resurgent hard-line socialists in the Left Party.

Only 24 percent of those asked in a survey published on Wednesday still back the Social Democrats (SPD), down four a whopping percentage points. Even worse, fewer Germans than ever before want SPD chairman Kurt Beck to become chancellor. According to the survey by pollster Forsa for the magazine Stern, only 14 percent want to see Beck lead the country – also a drop of four percentage points.

Beck and his party have been unable to develop a strategy to deal with the Left Party, an amalgam of the successor to East Germany’s communist party and a disgruntled western trade unionists and Social Democrats. The hard-line socialists have been making inroads into western German state parliaments recently and the SPD is torn whether to try to isolate the Left Party or work with it at the state level.

The biggest benefits of the SPD’s decline in the Forsa survey are Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives (CDU/CSU), which gained two percentage points to 38 percent, and the Left Party, which also gained two percentage points to hit a new high of 14 percent.

Support for the pro-market Free Democrats was unchanged at 10 percent and the environmentalists Greens gained one percentage point to match the liberals at 10 percent. Forsa surveyed 2,501 people for the poll, which has a margin of error of 2.5 percent.