German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s arch-conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) allies suffered historic losses in Bavarian state elections Sunday, delivering a harsh blow to her fragile three-party coalition government, AFP reported.
The CSU scored 35%, a 12-point drop from four years ago in the affluent state it has ruled almost single-handedly since the 1960s.
The poor result means it loses its absolute majority and must scramble for coalition allies – either the conservative Free Voters (11%) or long-time ideological foes the Greens, who were the big winners with a record 18-19%.
State premier Markus Soeder, 51, conceded that the outcome was “painful,” while CSU party chief and national Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said, “It was not a nice day for us.”
The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is hostile to Muslims and demands that “Merkel must go,” won 11% and entered the 15th of Germany’s 16 state assemblies.
Merkel’s other national governing partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), saw their support drop by half to just below 10%, ceding the position of Bavaria’s second-largest political force to the Greens.
“Debacle for CSU and SPD,” ran the online headline of Bild daily, while Der Spiegel described it as a “bitter defeat” for Bavaria’s traditional ruling party.
For the chancellor, who has been in power for 13 years, the Bavarian election creates a new challenge several months after she managed to forge a fragile “grand coalition” with the CSU and the reluctant SPD.