German Chancellor Angela Merkel's popularity has dropped after sexual assaults in Cologne on New Year's Eve that have been blamed on migrants, and a majority of Germans now believe she is doing a poor job managing the refugee crisis, a poll showed on Friday.
The Politbarometer survey for public broadcaster ZDF was released as senior figures from the Social Democrats (SPD), her coalition partner, broke ranks and challenged her optimistic "we can do this" mantra in the face of a record influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees.
"I am not as sure as Angela Merkel that we can do it,", former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told the German newspaper Handelsblatt, calling it an "illusion" to think that Germany could cope without introducing a formal cap on the number of migrants it allowed in.
Stefan Weil, the SPD premier of the state of Lower Saxony, told the newspaper Die Welt that Merkel would have to "correct herself" over the course of the year, because her efforts to find a European solution to the crisis did not appear to be working.
A day after support for Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) dropped two points in a survey for public broadcaster ARD, the new poll for ZDF made for even grimmer reading. It showed 56 percent of respondents believe Merkel is doing a poor job in the refugee crisis, up from 49 percent the month before.