Merkel party loses support in her home state: exit polls
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives suffered an embarrassing loss of support in elections in her home state Sunday, exit polls suggested, but they could still cling on to a share of power.
According to exit polls released by TV channel ARD, Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) mustered 24.0 percent of the vote in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, a decline on the 28.8 percent they won in 2006.
As expected, the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) was the strongest party, with 37 percent of the vote, a significant gain on their 2006 performance of 30.2 percent.
The third party was the far-left Linke, with 17 percent.
The resurgent Greens scored 8.5 percent, ensuring their representation in the regional parliament for the first time. They had previously failed to clear the five-percent hurdle required to enter the parliament.
Negotiations will now take place over possible coalition arrangements. Many analysts expect a continuation of the "grand coalition" of CDU and SPD that has governed the state since 2006.
However, a coalition of the SPD and the Linke, or even a three-way tie-up with the newly elected Greens, are also possible. The SPD has not declared which party it would rather form a coalition with.
Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania's current leader, Erwin Sellering from the SPD, was tight-lipped after the results: "We will decide what is best for the region."
The far-right NPD, which has historically done well in the state that has an unemployment rate nearly twice as high as the national average, appeared to have scraped back into parliament, despite losing support.
After winning representation in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in 2006 with 7.3 percent, their continued presence in parliament was on a knife-edge, as exit polls showed they had won 5.5 percent.
Merkel's coalition partners at national level, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), appeared to have suffered an ignominious rejection, with a paltry three percent of the vote.
Turnout was significantly down on the 2006 election, at 53.5 percent of eligible voters.
© 2011 AFP