Europe

Poll puts Germany's SPD slightly ahead of Merkel's party

FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2013 photo then European Parliament President Martin Schulz, left, talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels. A new poll published Friday, Feb. 24, 2017 shows Germany's center-left Social Democrats nudging past Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc in support for the first time in more than a decade. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe, file)

FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2013 photo then European Parliament President Martin Schulz, left, talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels. A new poll published Friday, Feb. 24, 2017 shows Germany's center-left Social Democrats nudging past Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc in support for the first time in more than a decade. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe, file)  (The Associated Press)

A new poll shows Germany's center-left Social Democrats nudging past Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc in support for the first time in more than a decade, riding a wave of enthusiasm from their surprise nomination of a new leader.

The Ifratest poll for ARD television Friday showed the SPD with a four point gain to 32 percent, with Merkel's bloc falling 3 points to 31 percent — a difference within the margin of error of plus or minus 1.4-to-3.1 percentage points.

The SPD is enjoying a boost from the choice last month of Martin Schulz, the former president of the European Parliament, to challenge Merkel in September elections. Experts caution it's too early to tell whether the momentum will last.

The SPD is currently Merkel's junior coalition partner in government.