Almost half of Germany’s first-time voters back Angela Merkel, a poll by the Forsa Institut showed Tuesday, providing a strong backbone of support for the chancellor as she prepares to bid for a fourth term in office in September.
Among all potential voters, Merkel had 43 percent support, compared to 32 percent for Martin Schulz, the chancellor candidate for the center-left Social Democrats (SPD). But that lead extended to 47 percent against 29 percent among young voters aged 18 to 21, the poll showed.
“Young people know Chancellor Merkel, with whom they grew up, but not the candidate Schulz,” said Manfred Guellner, who heads the Forsa institute. He said the latest data showed that “especially young people are looking for stability and continuity in these uncertain times.”
The elder stateswoman of western European politics, Merkel has come under fire at home for initially opening Germany’s doors to more than one million refugees. Facing what is likely to be a close-fought ballot, she has toughened her stance on immigration in recent months.