Merkel popularity soars to two-year high: poll
BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks on at the Great Hall of the People on February 2, 2012 in Beijing, China. AFP PhotoChancellor Angela Merkel's popularity has surged to a two-year high in Germany as voters cheered her management of the national economy and the eurozone crisis, a poll published today showed.
As some European neighbours criticise Merkel's hardline austerity-driven solutions for the sovereign debt crisis, 64 percent of her constituents said they approved of her job performance, according to the poll for ARD television.
It was her highest share of the electorate since December 2009, three months after she was elected to a second term.
Merkel was bested only by her Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, a veteran politician who has been her right-hand man in the crisis. He drew approval from 65 percent.
However approval of Merkel's centre-right government was far lower at 42 percent amid infighting over issues including tax policy and privacy rights.
Respondents said they admired Merkel as "honest and not seeking her own advantage" (73 percent), for taking "correct and decisive action" in the eurozone crisis (61 percent) and for "not acting like a partisan politician but as someone who is above the fray" (55 percent).
Eight-five percent appreciated "how she represents our country in the world".
Merkel, currently on a two-day trip to China, has also been buoyed by record-low unemployment and resilient economic growth while other euro countries bear the brunt of the crisis.
Scandal-wracked president Christian Wulff, whose office is largely ceremonial but who acts as a kind of moral arbiter for the country, fared far worse in the poll.
Only 33 percent approved of his work in office and a dismal 16 percent said he was honest. More than half -- 54 percent -- said he should resign.
Wulff, who is a member of Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), has faced a series of allegations since December over his mortgage and dealings with wealthy friends while he was premier of his home state.
The CDU remained the most popular party with 36 percent while their partners, the Free Democrats, with just three percent, failed to reach the five-percent bar required for seats in parliament.
The opposition Social Democrats had 29 percent, the Greens 15 percent and the far-left Die Linke party claimed seven percent. The Pirates, a relatively new outfit advocating improved data protection and more transparency in politics, drew six-percent support.
The Infratest Dimap independent opinion research firm said it polled 1,501 people between January 30 and February 1 with a margin of error of 1.4 to 3.1 percent.