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Anti-nuclear opinion powers German Greens to record support

by Staff Writers
Berlin (AFP) Sept 15, 2010
Germany's opposition Green party has soared to a record 22-percent support, according to a poll published Wednesday, thanks in part to public ire over Chancellor Angela Merkel's nuclear energy plans.

The survey by the independent research group Forsa showed the Greens gaining one point over last week to come within reach of Germany's main opposition party, the Social Democrats (SPD), which tallied 24 percent, down one point.

The Greens, born 30 years ago out of the environmentalist movement, fiercely oppose the centre-right government's scheme to extend the life of Germany's atomic energy plants by several years, unveiled this month.

While in power with the SPD between 1998 and 2005, the Greens successfully championed legislation that would have mothballed all 17 of the country's nuclear reactors by around 2020.

The Greens scored 10.7 percent at the last general election a year ago, which saw the conservative Merkel re-elected and able to form a coalition with her partner of choice, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).

In the Forsa poll, Merkel's Christian Union bloc dropped one point to 30 percent, the FDP remained steady at five percent and the far-left Linke reached 11 percent, down one point.

"The Linke looks pale, the (Christian) Union is adrift and the SPD still lacks a clear profile," said political scientist Gero Neugebauer of Berlin's Free University, explaining the Greens' relative strength.

Merkel's government has seen its support plummet in recent months due to incessant internal squabbling over issues such as tax cuts, health care reform and social welfare benefits.

The poll indicated that if the general election were held this week, the SPD and Greens would be well placed to reclaim power in Berlin.

Forsa conducted the survey September 6-10 among a representative sample of 2,501 German voters.

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