Voters in Bavaria have dealt the ruling CSU conservatives a humiliating setback and they look set to lose the absolute majority they have held in the state since 1962.
The CSU polled 43 percent of the vote down 17.4 percent.
However, they remain the biggest party in Bavaria.
The CSU is a sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the result is a blow for Merkel’s chances of re-election as she faces a federal poll in 2009.
The CSU accounts for 20 percent of the conservative block in Germany’s lower house of parliament and the party’s strength helped Merkel win her slim majority at the last election in 2005.
The Social Democrats, which rules alongside Merkel in an unhappy alliance, polled 19 percent slightly down on last time.
The Free Vote party, a centre right grouping, made gains polling 10 percent and the Greens had a good day ending up with nine percent of the popular vote.
As for the left they made little impression failing to reach the 5 percent threshold needed to make it into the state parliament.