Angela Merkel’s CDU party and her coalition partners, the SPD, are both set for huge losses in Sunday's regional elections for the West German state of Hesse.
If the vote goes as the polls predict the German government could be plunged into a fresh crisis. Coming just two weeks after electoral catastrophe for Merkel's Bavarian allies in THEIR state vote - all eyes are on Hesse - Widely viewed as a bellwether for national politics.
Having lost a number of voters in the Bavarian state elections, the SPD has been steadily losing support and many believe they have the potential to pull out of the coalition altogether – thus bringing the need for fresh national elections.
Playing down the potential blow - Chancellor Merkel said it was wrong to stylise the vote as a mini-national election. For Merkel, however, it may be too-little-too-late as elections for CDU leadership start in December – as there’s growing speculation that a bad outing for the CDU in these elections could mean the end of her run as leader.