Merkel popularity hit by ski accident absence, shows poll

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 19, 2014 5:12 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's popularity has slipped in the last few months and dipped 4 points in the last week alone, due in part to her forced absence after a skiing accident at the end of last year, a poll showed on Wednesday.

Although conservative Merkel, who has shared power with the Social Democrats (SPD) since mid-December, still enjoys a strong rating of 53 percent, it has fallen 12 points from the start of October, according to the Forsa survey.

Dubbed "Mummy" by German media, Merkel is regularly voted Germany's most popular politician and she is the main electoral asset for her Christian Democrats (CDU).

Support for Merkel's conservative bloc was down 1 percentage point for the second consecutive week but at 40 percent is still way ahead of the SPD, unchanged at 24 percent.

The eurosceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD), tipped to perform well in May's European elections, gained 1 point to 5 percent. Support for the other parties was also unchanged.

Forsa chief Manfred Guellner attributed the decline in Merkel's popularity to her skiing accident which has left her hobbling on crutches and limited her international exposure.

The SPD is failing to benefit, he added.

"Even if the SPD seemed more visible and dominant in the first few weeks of the grand coalition, the power constellation is little changed since the election," said Guellner.

The poll was conducted just before the coalition was rocked by a leak about a pornography inquiry into an SPD lawmaker which caused a conservative cabinet minister to resign.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Stephen Brown)