Support for Germany’s conservative candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor has slumped after he was seen laughing on a visit to a flood-stricken town, poll findings suggested on Thursday.
Armin Laschet has apologised for the gaffe last month, in which he was caught on camera laughing at a joke while the country’s president delivered a sombre speech. But would-be voters were unimpressed.
The survey for broadcaster ARD, by polling company infratest dimap, showed him losing 8 percentage points from last month, to 20 per cent support, based on a hypothetical direct vote for a chancellor.
Olaf Scholz, the chancellor candidate for the left-leaning Social Democrats (SPD), gained 6 points, taking his rating to 35 per cent. The Greens’ hopeful, Annalena Baerbock, slipped two points, to 16 per cent.
The poll of 1,312 voters, conducted from Monday to Wednesday of this week, put support for Mr Laschet’s conservatives at 27 per cent, ahead of the Greens at 19 per cent, the SPD at 18 per cent, the business-friendly Free Democrats at 12 per cent, the far-right Alternative for Germany at 10 per cent and the leftist Linke at 6 per cent.
Germany’s fractured political landscape has increased speculation that three largest political groups may need to join forces after the September 26 election to form a ruling coalition.
Mrs Merkel’s conservatives currently share power with the SPD.
The Greens presented an “emergency climate protection programme” on Tuesday, aiming to reset their national election campaign after squandering an early surge in opinion polls with a series of mistakes.