EUROPE >Merkel at most popular since 2009: poll

BERLIN - Agence France-Presse

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel's popularity is at its highest since shortly after her 2009 re-election and nearly 60 percent of Germans back her euro crisis strategy, a poll revealed Friday.
Merkel, who won a second term in September 2009, had a 66 percent approval rate in the survey conducted by Infratest Dimap for ARD public television, her best score in the poll since the end of 2009.
It also showed that 58 percent of those questioned viewed her handling of the euro crisis as "right and decisive".
However that has not allayed Germans' fears over the crisis -- 85 percent fear the worst of the eurozone debt crisis "is still ahead of us", the highest ever recorded in the ARD survey.
The poll was conducted from Monday to Wednesday this week among 1,004 people after an EU summit in Brussels after which some criticised Merkel for having given ground on crisis-fighting measures.
Just after Merkel in the popularity stakes was Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere, also of her Christian Democratic Union, then Frank-Walter Steinmeier, parliamentary leader of the main opposition Social Democrats (SPD).
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble tied Steinmeier for third place.
Meanwhile Merkel's conservatives remained clearly ahead in voter support with 35 percent, followed by the centre-left SPD with 30 percent, the Greens on 14 percent and the far-left Linke and Pirate parties both on seven percent.
More worrying for Merkel is the result for her junior coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democratic Party, which fell below the necessary five-percent hurdle for parliamentary seats, the poll showed.
The party preference question had a sample size of 1,504.


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