German leader Angela Merkel's conservatives scored record support in a poll Wednesday but backing for her coalition partner plunged, less than two weeks before a key state election.
The embattled pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) scored just 2 percent in a national survey, far below the 5 per cent required for them to re-enter parliament at the state or federal level.
A January 20 state election in Lower Saxony is seen as a crucial bellwether for a September national vote in which Merkel is seeking a third term as chancellor with the FDP's support.
The FDP's leader Philipp Roesler has drawn heavy fire for the party's low popularity and was openly attacked by other senior party figures at an annual party conference last Sunday.
Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) scored 42 percent, the highest level since she took power in 2005, said the poll conducted by the Forsa institute for Stern news weekly and RTL television
Support for the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) fell to 25 percent, while backing for the Green Party rose to 15 per cent - giving them a combined 40 per cent, not enough to take power.
Among minor parties, support for the Left Party, the successors to the former East Germany's communists, was up at 9 per cent, while internet freedom party the Pirates stayed flat at 3 percent.
If the poll reflected a federal election, it would allow the CDU to rule with either the SPD or the Greens - or for a coalition of the SPD with the Greens plus the Left.
Forsa director Manfred Guellner said the CDU and its Bavarian sister party the CSU would gain from the demise of their coalition partners as half of all FDP voters would switch to them.
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