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New leader nets German conservatives a three-point poll gain

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By Reuters
New leader nets German conservatives a three-point poll gain
FILE PHOTO: New CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer talks with former CDU chief and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during the Christian Democratic Union party congress in Hamburg, Germany, December 8, 2018. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo   -   Copyright  Fabian Bimmer(Reuters)

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives gained support in a poll published on Monday after her Christian Democrats (CDU) chose centrist Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as the new party leader.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, often dubbed “mini Merkel”, narrowly beat the more conservative Friedrich Merz in a run-off vote of party delegates. Another conservative, Health Minister Jens Spahn, lost out in a first round.

The conservative bloc – made up of the CDU and their Bavarian CSU sister party – has slumped in polls since last year’s federal election but picked up 3 percentage points to hit 32 percent in the Forsa poll for broadcasters RTL and n-tv.

The survey of 1,506 people was conducted after Kramp-Karrenbauer’s election. The previous Forsa poll was published on Dec. 7, the day of the CDU vote.

The new support appeared to come at the expense of the Greens who dipped 3 percentage points while support for all other parties was unchanged.

The poll found half of voters (46 percent) thought the choice of Kramp-Karrenbauer was “a good solution” while around a quarter (24 percent) would have preferred Merz.

Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of CDU supporters thought Kramp-Karrenbauer was a good choice while 55 percent of those who back the Social Democrats (SPD) – Merkel’s junior coalition partner – were pleased.

Merkel needs Kramp-Karrenbauer to unite the CDU to help steady her awkward alliance with the SPD that has come close to collapse several times since being formed in March.

The poll showed almost two-thirds (63 percent) of Germans wanted Merkel to remain chancellor until the legislative period ends in 2021 while around a third think she should leave office early.

Merkel has said she is prepared to remain chancellor until 2021.

The poll showed the SPD on 14 percent while both the pro-business Free Democrats and the hardline Left were unchanged at 8 percent. The far-right Alternative for Germany was on 13 percent.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)