BERLIN, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has gained further voter support amid government infighting, according to the latest Deutschlandtrend poll published Friday by the public broadcaster ARD.
If federal elections were held next Sunday, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) would probably receive a combined 28 percent of votes (minus one percentage point), followed by the AfD in second place with 18 percent (plus two percentage points), and the German Social Democrats (SPD) in the third place with 17 percent (minus one percentage point).
The Deutschlandtrend findings marked the first time ever in the regular survey conducted for ARD by the institute Infratest dimap since 1997 that the AfD has overtaken the SPD, as well as the worst ever result for the CDU/CSU.
The Green Party witnessed a gain of one percentage point to 15 percent, ahead of the Left party whose support remained at 10 percent and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) in last place with nine percent of votes (plus one percentage point).
The poll was published shortly after the "grand coalition" formed by the CDU, CSU and SPD teetered on the brink of collapse following threats by the SPD to quit chancellor Angela Merkel's fourth governing cabinet unless she fired Hans-Georg Maasen as president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV).
Earlier, Maasen made and subsequently retracted controversial comments about far-right marches in Chemnitz in which he questioned the authenticity of the video footage depicting racist violence in the east German town.
A resulting compromise solution by the "grand coalition" to remove Maasen from the BfV by promoting him to a more senior and better-paid position as secretary of state in the interior ministry does not appear to have been well received by voters. Interior minister and CSU leader Horst Seehofer in particular, a staunch supporter of Maasen in the affair, suffered from a collapse in popularity as recorded in the Deutschlandtrend poll.
A meagre 28 percent of respondents indicated that Seehofer was suitable for his role as interior minister, down by 11 percentage points compared to a survey in April. Six out of ten respondents said he was a poor candidate for the job. Among self-declared CDU/CSU supporters, only 31 percent expressed support for Seehofer as the right individual to lead the interior ministry compared to 45 percent in April.
The poll was released on the same day as a new INSA institute survey published by the newspaper BILD which also pointed to growing dissatisfaction with the ruling "grand coalition" in Germany.
According to the INSA survey, 47 percent of voters in the Eurozone's largest economy currently favor holding early elections before Merkel's cabinet completes its full term.