A survey by pollster Forsa for newsweekly Stern showed the leftists garnering the support of 24 percent of voters compared to only 23 percent for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in the small western state of Saarland.
The Left Party is aiming to become the strongest party in Saarland in state elections next year, as Oskar Lafontaine – current Left Party boss and former Saarland state premier – tries to lead the state again.
"Nationally, of course, he's the most disliked politician," Forsa director Manfred Güllner told Stern. "But in Saarland he still enjoys lots of sympathy from workers and trade unionists."
Though the election for the state legislature is still a year off, the poll is sure to rattle the SPD, which has struggled to sharpen its profile as the Left Party has continued to gain support in the western part of the country. While the Social Democrats have suffered in popularity as Chancellor Angela Merkel's junior coalition partner, the Left Party – born from the union of the successor to the East German communist party and disgruntled western German trade unionists – has started to establish itself across western Germany.
Nationally, the Left Party polled 14 percent in the Forsa survey, while the SPD garnered 21 percent. Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats booked 37 percent and the pro-market Free Democrats were on 13 percent – giving the conservatives possibly an alternative coalition after the general election next autumn. The environmentalist Greens won the support of 10 percent of those surveyed.