Merkel coalition loses state poll, upper house majority: exit polls
Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition suffered a bruising defeat in a regional election Sunday that cost it its majority in the upper house, exit polls said, amid voter anger over the Greek bailout.
Merkel's conservatives won around 34 percent in the western region of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany's most populous state, according to exit polls by television stations ZDF and ARD.
It was their worst result ever in the state.
Their coalition allies the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) polled 6.5 percent, leaving them well short of a majority.
Meanwhile, the opposition centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) polled around 35 percent, the Greens 12.5 percent and the relatively new political outfit, the far-left Linke party, scored six percent.
The result, if confirmed, will make it considerably harder for Merkel to push through key reforms, including sweeping tax reforms she believes are needed to revitalise Europe's top economy.
With the hugely unpopular 22.4-billion-euro (28.5-billion-dollar) three-year bailout of Greece agreed in parliament only two days previously, the state's voters appeared to have punished Merkel.
Merkel's centre-right CDU party has plunged in the polls since the last election in 2005, when they scored 44.8 percent. But the SPD, which governed the state for the previous four decades, has also lost support, having scored 37.1 in 2005.
© 2010 AFP