BERLIN — Less than three weeks before German elections, Chancellor Angela Merkel maintained a strong lead in a poll published Thursday, the first taken fully since the campaign's only TV debate.
Despite a spirited performance by her Social Democratic rival Peer Steinbrueck before more than 17 million television viewers last Sunday, his personal approval rating notched up only slightly.
Merkel was once again rated the country's most popular politician and was chosen the preferred chancellor by 59 percent against 30 percent who preferred Steinbrueck.
Her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party gained 41 percent support, while their coalition allies the Free Democratic Party scored six percent.
The combined 47 percent would give the coalition another narrow ruling majority after the September 22 election.
Steinbrueck's Social Democratic Party (SPD) scored 26 percent, while their preferred allies the Greens fell two points to 10 percent.
The far-left Linke — which the SPD and Greens have said they don't want to govern with — won eight percent in the ZDF television Politbarometer survey.
The anti-euro party AFD, which was founded earlier this year, scored three percent, below the five percent threshold to enter parliament.
The phone survey of 1,296 people was conducted from Monday to Wednesday.
© AFP 2013