Manila Times - - World -

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s arch- con­ser­va­tive Bavar­ian al­lies are brac­ing for heavy elec­toral losses in the south­ern Alpine state to­day that could trig­ger shock­waves in Ber­lin. The Chris­tian So­cial Union (CSU), who have al­most sin­gle-hand­edly ruled the wealthy beer-and-leder­ho­sen state since the 1960s, are ex­pected to lose their ab­so­lute ma­jor­ity, polls say. The other part­ner in Merkel’s frag­ile ‘grand coali­tion,’ the So­cial Democrats, are also set to do poorly while the far-right and anti-im­mi­gra­tion AfD look cer­tain to en­ter the state as­sem­bly. The big­gest win­ners, how­ever, may be the left-lean­ing Greens who have dou­bled their poll rat­ings to around 18 per­cent since the last state elec­tions, which would make them the sec­ond strong­est party. Poll booths open at 0600 GMT for al­most 10 mil­lion el­i­gi­ble vot­ers, and first pro­jec­tions are ex­pected shortly af­ter they close at 1600 GMT. If the sur­veys prove cor­rect, the Bavar­ian election will mark an­other step in the demise of ‘big-tent’ main­stream par­ties and the frag­men­ta­tion of the po­lit­i­cal land­scape, as seen in other western democ­ra­cies. For Merkel, now of­ten la­beled a lame duck leader in her fourth and fi­nal term, it would fur­ther raise po­lit­i­cal pres­sure two weeks ahead of an­other dan­ger­ous re­gional vote, in the cen­tral state of Hesse.

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