Merkel’s bloc dips in polls 6 months before German vote


BERLIN — A leading figure in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Union bloc has warned that there’s a growing “mood for change” in Germany, as surveys show voters losing faith in the long-time leader’s party six months before a national election.

An opinion poll published Sunday by weekly Bild am Sonntage put the Union bloc’s support at 25%, just ahead of the environmentalist Greens with 23%. The center-left Social Democrats placed third, with 17%, according to the poll of 1,447 voters with a margin of error of up to 3 percentage points.

“The situation is very serious,” Markus Soeder, the governor of Bavaria and a possible contender to succeed Merkel in September, told Bild am Sonntag. “The corona numbers are rising and the Union’s ratings are falling.”

The grouping of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and Soeder’s Bavaria-only Christian Social Union, which won almost 33% of the vote in 2017, has been hit by a scandal over lawmakers’ allegedly profiting from mask procurement deals and frustration over Germany’s sluggish coronavirus vaccination campaign.

By Friday, just over 10% of the population had received at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine, while 4.5 % had received both doses.

Meanwhile, Germany’s disease control agency reported 17,176 newly confirmed cases and 90 deaths over the past day.

“A mood for change is arising in the country,” Soeder was quoted as saying. “The Union needs to show that it’s still got strength and ideas, and isn’t exhausted and worn out.”

Soeder is trying to position himself ahead of Armin Laschet, the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, in the race to lead the Union bloc into the Sept. 26 election.

Merkel has said she won’t run for a fifth term.

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