Support for Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc has slumped to a new low, and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) would be the second-biggest party if an election were held right away, a poll showed on Friday.
The ARD DeutschlandTrend survey put support for Merkel's conservative alliance, her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), at 28 percent, down one point from Sept. 6 and at a record low.
A separate survey from INSA showed that almost half of Germans were in favor of a new election, reflecting discontent with the handling of the Maassen affair that has eroded Merkel's authority. Almost a third were against a new vote.
In last September's federal election, the CDU/CSU bloc won 32.9 percent of the vote and the AfD surged into the national parliament for the first time with 12.6 percent, making it the third-largest party. The SPD came second with 20.5 percent. Infratest Dimap polled 1,035 voters across Germany from Monday to Wednesday of this week.
The violence in Chemnitz exposed deep divisions in Germany over Merkel's 2015 decision to open the country's doors to around a million people seeking asylum, mainly Muslims from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. That decision has also been blamed for fueling the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which became the largest opposition party after an election last year that weakened both Merkel's conservatives and the SPD. It is expected to come third in Bavaria on Oct. 14. On Tuesday the AfD said removing Maassen as head of the BfV agency posed a threat to national security.
The migration issue has driven a deep wedge through Germany and weakened Merkel, who has led the country for 13 years. Most observers say her current fourth term will likely be her last. Although new arrivals are down from their 2015-2016 peak, she was forced to make major concessions to Interior Minister Seehofer in July to tamp down his rebellion by hammering out bilateral agreements with EU partners to take back asylum seekers who later arrived in Germany. Although her critics have been emboldened by a string of high-profile crimes allegedly committed by migrants, defenders of Merkel's more welcoming stance toward refugees have mobilized as well.
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