Merkel wants to regain voters' trust after Bavarian poll setback

Merkel left and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer right look at their watc

Merkel left and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer right look at their watc

In second place, Germany-wide were the SPD and Greens, now neck-and-neck at 17 percent each, followed by the AfD at 15 percent.

The anti-migration far-right Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) won 11 percent of votes, crossing the 5-percent hurdle and leaping into the state parliament.

Without naming Merkel, SPD leader Andrea Nahles said the "poor performance" of the federal government in Berlin, where the SPD is in a coalition with the conservatives, was one of the reasons for her party's weak showing in Bavaria.

Polls suggest the ruling parties will again be punished in two weeks' time in an election in the western state of Hesse, where they are expected to lose voters to the AfD and the Greens.

The Greens' current flexibility would have been hard to imagine in 1983 when the Greens, then a protest party with a penchant for beards and sunflowers, first took their seats in the German parliament.

Pointing to goings-on in Berlin, Soeder said "it's not so easy to uncouple yourself from the national trend completely".

"One thing is for sure: Despite certain debates and comments and forecasts, the CSU is not only the strongest party, it has remit to form government, and that has to be said as well in this context".

Angela Merkel has been the Chancellor of Germany since 2015, but in recent times, the Chancellor is facing a blown out rebellion within her party the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

The Greens, traditionally bitter opponents of the CSU, with a more liberal approach to migration and an emphasis on environmental issues, are another possible partner.

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Needing coalition partners to govern is in itself a major setback for a party that has long leveraged its strength in Bavaria to punch above its weight in national politics.

That government has been notable largely for internal squabbling since it took office in March. The CSU leader, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, has often played a starring role.

He's been sharply critical of her open-borders stance on migration, provoking a coalition crisis over the summer when he threatened to impose restrictions on the border with Austria against Merkel's will. He almost brought down the ruling coalition in June with a demand to turn back small numbers of asylum-seekers at the German-Austrian border.

If both regional elections show voters continue to flee the CDU-CSU alliance, Merkel will come under pressure to resign as party leader at the CDU party conference in December.

Official results will be published later on Sunday or Monday.

Across Germany, support for the CDU-CSU conservative union dropped to an all-time low of 26 per cent, according to an Emnid poll for Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

The CDU's general secretary, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, said the party must show "discipline" and focus on Hesse. Merkel said that she was vehemently opposed to reinstating German border controls out of concerns that other European governments would do the same, thereby triggering a domino-effect that would effectively end the free movement of people within the so-called Schengen Area.

Not only that: Angry Bavarians notwithstanding, Merkel's reception on Saturday also made clear that the chancellor remains popular in her party, especially on its progressive wing - the biggest cheer of the day came when she criticized the male domination on the JU's leadership committee: "Women enrich life".

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