German election drive heats up

BERLIN: The campaign over who will replace German Chancellor Angela Merkel heated up on Sunday after an opinion poll showed the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) opening up a bigger lead over Merkel's conservatives.

Support for the SPD rose two points from last week to 24%, their highest result in four years according to the INSA poll conducted for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. The conservatives slipped one point to 21%, their lowest ever polled by INSA.

Germany goes to the polls on Sept. 26 when Merkel steps down as chancellor after 16 years in office and four straight national election victories. Merkel's imminent departure has weakened support for her conservative alliance. It was the second survey in the last week that has put the SPD ahead. Support for Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), has been falling steadily in recent weeks. - Reuters