German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s left wing rival in September’s federal elections has drawn equal with her party in a shock poll.
Martin Schulz recently became the Chancellorship candidate for Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), after stepping down as president of the European parliament, where he was an MEP for more that 20 years and sat as president for five years.
During his time in the Parliament, he was known to be even more pro-European Union (EU) than Mrs. Merkel and made a name for himself as an arch-federalist and fierce opponent of Brexit.
Mrs. Merkel’s party has long been considered as the firm favourite to win September’s election, but the new poll for ARD TV showed that 41 per cent of Germans asked would choose Mr. Schulz in a direct vote for chancellor.
The same number opted for Mrs. Merkel standing for her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party.
Mr. Schulz replaced Sigmar Gabriel as head of the SDP, the vice-chancellor in Mrs. Merkel’s coalition government, who quit as leader on Tuesday.
“Schulz stands for a new beginning. And that’s what it’s all about in a Bundestag election”, he said at the time.
However, the good news for the SDP was tempered by a poll yesterday for Bild newspaper, showing Mr. Schulz a long way behind Mrs. Merkel.
According to that survey, 25.5 per cent would give their personal support to him, compared with 40.5 per cent supporting the current Chancellor.
Regardless of who is crowned Chancellor after the election on September 24th, it is likely the SDP and CDU will once again form a coalition to govern the country as the German electoral system makes it difficult for any party to gain a majority alone.
However, Politico.eu reported earlier this week an emerging ambition to “unite the left”, and to potentially lead a Red-Green-Red coalition to block Mrs. Merkel from power.