BERLIN, March 2 Germany's Social Democrats (SPD)
have seen a surge in new members, a further sign of the party's
revival under new leader Martin Schulz who will face Chancellor
Angela Merkel in a September election.
More than 10,000 people have joined the party in the past
five weeks, 80 percent more than during the whole of last year,
the SPD said on Thursday.
Since Schulz took over as party leader at the end of
January, polls have shown support for the SPD increasing by
around 10 percentage points, threatening conservative Merkel's
re-election hopes after 11 years in office.
By the end of February, the SPD had 438,829 members compared
with 432,706 at the end of 2016, the party said. More than 40
percent of the new members are younger than 35 years old.
At the end of January, Merkel's conservative Christian
Democrats (CDU) had 430,683 members but that does not include
those in the large state of Bavaria which is represented by the
Christian Social Union (CSU) sister party.
(Reporting by Holger Hansen; Writing by Madeline Chambers;
Editing by Susan Fenton)