As Berlin’s politicians began their summer break this week, news magazine Stern found that Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and their junior coalition partners the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) together garner only 34 percent of voter support.
The CDU and its Bavarian sister party the CSU managed 30 percent, while the FDP had just 4 percent. This is the lowest level ever measured for these parties since pollster Forsa began conducting the regular poll for the magazine in 1986.
If the country participated in a parliamentary vote this Sunday, they would likely vote in an entirely new coalition of the centre-left Social Democrats and the environmentalist Greens, who together could squeak out a working majority with 47 percent, according to Stern.
The Greens reached their highest approval rating ever -19 percent – in the representative poll that questioned 2,500 Germans. The SPD maintained this year’s high of 28 percent, first registered last week. The socialist Left party’s rating also remained unchanged at 11 percent.
Forsa head Manfred Güllner told the magazine that the country’s two largest parties, the CDU and SPD, were endangering their image by flirting with the Greens.
“The CDU and SPD are in danger of losing their identity,” he said. “When they build coalitions with the Greens, it must be clear which is the cook and which is the waiter.”
This confusion could mean that support for a SPD-Greens coalition may only apply at the federal level. In another Stern survey Forsa also tested how Germans feel about the minority government recently formed by the SPD and Greens in the populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The results showed that almost half were sceptical of the experiment and believed it would not last its entire term.
But Merkel, facing both the free fall in the polls and an exodus of top conservatives, said Wednesday she was confident that her government would see out its four-year term.
Asked at her annual pre-holiday summer news conference whether her squabbling centre-right coalition would make it to 2013, the 56-year-old Merkel replied: “I am quite certain.”
The chancellor acknowledged that she had been unable to corral the members of her team as they descended into name-calling in recent months while arguing over tax policy, healthcare reform and the future of nuclear energy.
“Voters have not been happy at all with some of the types of debates we have had,” she said.
“Certain ways of speaking with each other were not acceptable and we need to work on that,” she said.
She turned philosophical on the reasons why the government has not appeared to be a match made in heaven.
“We needed time to find our feet in government,” she said. “We had said for years that this was the coalition we wanted and as it sometimes is in life, the reality has been a bit bumpier that expected.”
But she pledged to turn the ship around in the remainder of the term.
“I am looking ahead and you can expect us to govern well during this legislative period,” she said.