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Germany's Social Democrats narrow gap with Merkel's conservatives: poll

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's center-left Social Democrats have closed to within one percentage point of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, a poll showed on Saturday, seven months before a pivotal federal election with EU-wide ramifications.

The SPD, Merkel's junior coalition partners, would take 32 percent of the vote if an election were held today, an Emnid poll to appear in Bild am Sonntag newspaper showed, three percentage points higher than last week.

It was the highest result for the SPD since April 2006, Bild am Sonntag said. Merkel's conservatives remain on 33 percent.

The SPD has been reinvigorated by the appointment of former European Parliament president Martin Schulz as their chancellor candidate, by promises to boost investment and by divisions among conservatives over Merkel's refugee policy.

The populist, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is seen winning 10 percent to become the third largest party in the lower house, according to the Emnid poll. The hard-left Die Linke is on 8 percent.

In a direct vote, Schulz would beat Merkel by 46 percent to 40 percent, the poll found.

Another poll last week showed the SPD would beat Merkel's Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union.

(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; editing by Mark Heinrich)

 

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