Germany's Social Democrats overtake Merkel's conservatives - INSA poll

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Incoming SPD leader and candidate in the upcoming general elections Schulz addresses an SPD party convention in Berlin

Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader and candidate in the upcoming general elections Martin Schulz addresses an SPD party convention in Berlin, Germany, March 19, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) gained one percentage point to edge past Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in an opinion poll by the INSA institute to be published Tuesday in the mass-circulation Bild newspaper.

The SPD, which has gained around 10 points in opinion polls after naming former European Parliament President Martin Schulz as its leader in late January, was at 32 percent support, while the Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party were unchanged at 31 percent.

The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party was unchanged at 11.5 percent, while the far-left Linke party was steady at 8.5 percent and the pro-environment Greens held fast at 6.5 percent. The pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) lost a half percentage point to 6.5 percent.

INSA polled 1,933 citizens from March 17-20 and gave no margin of error for the poll.

"The SPD and the (conservative) Union are running neck-and-neck, currently with a small advantage for the SPD," said Hermann Binkert, president of the INSA institute. "A grand coalition no longer automatically guarantees that Angela Merkel will be chancellor."

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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