BERLIN (Reuters) - More than half of Germans want Chancellor Angela Merkel to run for a fourth term as the conservative candidate in the 2017 federal election, a poll showed on Wednesday, despite a dip in her popularity due to her liberal migrant policy.
Some 59 percent of Germans want Merkel to put herself forward for “The Union”, which is made up of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party - the Christian Social Union (CSU) - a survey by pollster Forsa for Stern magazine showed.
That compared with 35 percent who said they do not want Merkel to run for a fourth term, according to the poll of 1,002 people conducted between Nov. 3 and 4.
Senior allies of Merkel have indicated they expect her to run for office again in 2017 even though her decision to allow more than a million migrants fleeing the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere into Germany this year and last has polarized society.
Merkel, 62, has been chancellor of Europe’s largest economy since 2005. She has repeatedly declined to comment on whether she will run in 2017, saying only that she will make her intentions clear in due course. In September she said she was still motivated.
If Merkel decides not to run for office, 26 percent think Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who earned respect for his handling of the euro zone crisis, would be the best candidate to run for the conservatives, while 18 percent were in favor of Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen.
Von der Leyen is often rumored to be a possible successor to Merkel but said in October that she hoped to continue serving in her current role beyond the election.
Twelve percent thought Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere would be the best choice for conservative candidate if Merkel chooses not to run.
Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky