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What does the Bavarian election result mean for Merkel? | Euronews answers

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By Emma Beswick
What does the Bavarian election result mean for Merkel? | Euronews answers

Bavarians went to the polls on Sunday to elect their new state parliament for the next five years and the result saw an overhaul in the southern state.

Who were the big winners (and losers)?

Early projections showed a surge in support for both the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and the Greens.

The AfD, which has an anti-immigration stance, won around 11% of votes, meaning it would enter the Bavarian state parliament for the first time. The Greens looked set to take over 17% of the vote.

While projections for Germany’s public broadcasters showed the Christian Social Union, the sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, finish first with 35.65% of the vote, it was not enough to secure an absolute majority. Around a quarter of its supporters defected to other parties.

The CSU lost support over issues like migration, after adopting a harder tone and policies in the leadup to the election.

The SPD, the CSU’s longstanding centre-left rival and Merkel's other national governing partner, saw its vote halve to 10% from nearly 21% in 2013.

What does it mean for Merkel?

The CSU has dominated Bavarian politics for the last six decades coming away with absolute majorities in 12 of the last 13 elections.

The result means the party will have to form a coalition, which it looks to have enough votes to push through.

It could form a conservative coalition with the right-leaning Freie Wähler (Free Voters) or it could connect with the Greens, a line which conservatives have followed in other German states.

Coming just over six months since Merkel managed to piece together a delicate "grand coalition" with the CSU and a reluctant SPD, the outcome is a blow to her fragile three-party government and a historic night for both Bavaria and Germany.

The CDU's general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said the "bitter" losses in Bavaria showed voters are not happy with recent coalition infighting in Berlin and must "must serve as a warning for the German CDU" ahead of a state election in Hesse in two weeks.

What does it mean for the EU?

Touted by many as the most important elections in Europe before the European elections of May 2019, the result in Bavaria will surely have ramifications in Brussels.

Manfred Weber, a prominent CSU politician, is gunning for European Commission president and the frontrunner in the primary for the mainstream right European People’s Party's (EPP) candidate.

Weber recently turned on Orbán, by supporting the European Parliament’s triggering of Article 7 against Hungary and could interpret the Bavarian results as a confirmation that his leaning in the direction of the centre-right and away from the far-right will more easily lead him to a win.

It remains to be seen if, like Bavarians, Europeans believe that the mainstream right parties have left more important issues by the wayside, devoting too much time to the immigration issue and will seek to remedy this in the upcoming elections.