Boost for Angela Merkel as allies win in Bavaria

Angela Merkel’s allies have swept to victory in a state poll in Bavaria, winning enough support to regain the absolute majority they lost in 2008 and boosting the chancellor and her conservatives a week before a German federal election.

Angela Merkel and colleagues look bemused as a drone - launched by a photojournalist - crashes onto the stage at an event. Picture: AFP

The Christian Social Union (CSU), sister party of Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), yesterday won 49 per cent according to a TV exit poll. Their coalition partner, the Free Democrats (FDP), polled just three per cent, crashing out of the state assembly.

It was a thumping victory for Bavaria state premier Horst Seehofer, who had assured Mrs Merkel ahead of the vote, “we’ll put the ball on the penalty spot, you just have to kick it in.”

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But it was a disastrous result for the FDP, Mrs Merkel’s junior coalition partner. She needs the FDP to do well in the federal vote to avoid having to turn to the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), with whom she governed in her first term from 2005-09.

The weak FDP showing in Bavaria might scare conservatives elsewhere in Germany into giving their second vote to the FDP, potentially weakening the share of votes for Merkel’s CDU.

“Those who want Angela Merkel must vote for Angela Merkel,” Armin Laschet, a deputy leader of the chancellor’s CDU, told ARD television. The Free Democrats “will make it,” he added.

Exit polls put the SPD on 21 per cent in Bavaria and their Greens partners on 8.5 per cent. The Freie Waehler (Free Voters), a Bavarian party which opposes Germany’s euro zone policy, polled 8.5 per cent.

The CSU has governed the prosperous southern state for 56 years but suffered a shock slump five years ago forcing them into a coalition with the FDP. Bavaria is home to 12.5 million of Germany’s 80.5 million people and if it were a country, it would have the euro zone’s sixth largest population and economy. The state cherishes its strong regional identity and is fiercely proud of its careful state spending.

It is the only state with a regional party in the federal parliament because when other regional conservative parties joined to form the CDU, the CSU chose to remain separate. CSU MPs make up nearly a quarter of Mrs Merkel’s conservative bloc.