Germany's pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) have lost nearly a third of their support after only three months sharing power with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, an opinion poll published on Friday showed.
The Politbarometer poll for ZDF TV found the FDP plunging to 10 percent, down 1 percentage point in the last month and off from the 14.6 percent it won in last September's election. In another poll by Stern magazine, the FDP lost 2 points in the last week to 9 percent.
Back in power after 11 years in opposition, the FDP has angered Merkel's conservatives (CDU) and some voters by pushing relentlessly for tax cuts even though budget deficits have risen to record levels.
The FDP has also faced criticism for pushing through tax breaks for hotels after getting a 1.1-million euro campaign contribution from the owner of a hotels group. The FDP denied any connection.
Opposition parties have attacked the FDP -- which once labelled itself "the party of better incomes" -- for catering to special interests. The ZDF poll found 70 percent feel the centre-right government is mainly working for special interests.
A rise in support for Merkel's conservatives has partly compensated for the FDP's spectacular fall. The poll found the CDU and their Christian Social Union (CSU) sister party would get 37 percent, up from September's 33.8 percent.
But the rapid loss in support for the FDP, which has pursued rigorously pro-free markets policies, could put strains on the structure of Merkel's centre-right government.
Support for the coalition is on 47 percent in total compared with 48 percent for the three main opposition parties. The Social Democrats (SPD) rose one point to 26 percent, the Greens were steady at 12 percent and the Left party fell 1 point to 10 percent.
The FDP's steep fall in such a short time matched an erosion in support for its leader, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
Although German foreign ministers are usually at the top of the list of the country's most popular political leaders, Westerwelle's ranking fell to number eight, with a minus 2 rating in January after a plus 3 a month ago.
ReutersLast Mod: 30 Ocak 2010, 11:18