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Merkel's party bloc wins strongest support since 2009: poll

(Xinhua)

09:16, February 09, 2012

BERLIN, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party bloc garnered the highest level of support since her second term in 2009, as voters applauded the country's outstanding economic performance and the government's handling of debt crisis, a poll showed Wednesday.

The survey, conducted by the Forsa polling institute for Stern magazine, indicated that Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party CSU earned the support of 38 percent of voters, the strongest since the chancellor win her second term in September 2009, with a new coalition consisting of the CDU, CSU and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).

Data showed that for the first time since March 2011, the ruling coalition enjoyed more supports of voters than the main opposition combined with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and ecologist Greens.

However, the coalition junior partner FDP had no sign of recovery - its approval rate stood at merely three percent, below the five-percent threshold of having seats in the federal parliament. The party had won some 15 percent of support during the national election in 2009.

Manfred Gullner, head of Forsa institute, said that it was Chancellor Merkel that "pulled the conservatives to the top."

Merkel's iron-hand response to the debt crisis, including pushing for strict fiscal disciplines and austerity measures to the debt-laden nations, won respects of German voters and strengthened the impression that she has a long-term vision and is defending Germany's interests during the crisis time, although some of her prescription has drawn sharp criticisms from peripheral nations in the eurozone. Some argued that harsh austerity would not necessarily lead to jobs and growth but only to undermine the robustness of the crisis-hit economies.

Expert said that Germany's outstanding economy also contributed to the rising support, as it outpaced most of its European neighbors and posted a solid growth of 3 percent last year. The country's unemployment dipped to 6.7 percent in January, a new record low since its unification in 1990.

A separate survey released on Friday showed that Merkel's domestic approval rating climbed up to 64 percent, which was also a two-year high.

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