The Christian Social Union (CSU), sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), won 49% according to a TV exit poll. Their coalition partner, the Free Democrats (FDP), polled just 3%, crashing out of the state assembly.
It was a thumping victory for Bavaria state premier Horst Seehofer, who had assured Merkel ahead of the vote, “we’ll put the ball on the penalty spot, you just have to kick it in”.
But it was a disastrous result for the FDP, 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 2005-2009.
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.
Exit polls put the SPD on 21% in Bavaria and their Greens partners on 8.5%. The Freie Waehler (Free Voters), a Bavarian party which opposes Germany’s eurozone policy, polled 8.5%.
The CSU has governed the prosperous southern state bordering Austria and the Czech Republic 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 and “laptop and lederhosen” economy.