While Merkel's away, German opposition SPD hit election doorbells

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While Merkel's away, German opposition SPD hit election doorbells

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Germany’s main opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) is mounting a door-to-door campaign to try to gain ground on frontrunner Angela Merkel’s bloc ahead of next month’s vote.

The Chancellor has gone away on holiday well ahead in the polls. One survey published by Forsa this week put her Christian Democratic party (CDU) on 40 percent, with their coalition partners from the Free Democrats on five percent.

The SPD rose a percentage point to 23 percent, with their partners the Greens on 14 percent.

“Of course it’s also about winning back loyal SPD voters who unfortunately stayed at home at the last election. So it’s clearly about mobilising SPD voters and saying ‘hey, where are you?’” said Tim Hansen, an election co-ordinator in Hamburg-Eimsbuettel.

Forsa chief Manfred Guellner was quoted as saying that the SPD had its work cut out as an “unusually low number” of those who voted for the party last time round – 57 percent – said they would do so again.

But the opinion polls suggest a strong possibility that neither centre-right nor centre-left will gain a majority.

SPD leader Peer Steinbrück has struggled to find grounds on which to attack Merkel and found himself in hot water by suggesting the Chancellor lacked a “passion for Europe”.

Visiting a northern shipyard at Papenburg on Wednesday, he spoke out against the abuse of temporary workers.

With six weeks to go, the SPD and their partners the Greens are under pressure to break pre-election vows and join forces with the far-left.

One poll suggested the three parties together could topple Merkel in September.