The poor showing in Hesse, home to Germany's financial industry, further exposes Ms. Merkel to a potential challenge to the leadership of the Christian Democratic Union, a possible step towards replacing her as chancellor.
Ms. Merkel's conservatives dropped to 27% of the vote in Hesse, while the Social Democrats, the Chancellor's junior coalition partners in the federal government, fell to 19.8%, according to ZDF broadcaster. In the last election, in 2013, the parties got 38.3% and 30.7% respectively.
The vote in Hesse's second major setback in recent weeks for both parties, […]
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They could also boost the drive among the Social Democrat grass roots to leave the coalition in a bid to stop the bleeding of votes. Andrea Nahles, the Social Democrat leader, said she would be making a series of proposals to improve the workings of the government and that the success of those efforts would determine whether the party would remain in the coalition. [1
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Ms. Merkel's conservative bloc has shrunk to a record low of 24% support, down from 32.9%, while the Social Democrats dropped from 20.5% to 15%.
Hesse, home to about six million people, is currently ruled by a coalition between the Conservatives and the Greens, who nearly doubled their 2013 result and are projected to win 19.8% of the vote. The Social Democrats are not part of the ruling coalition in Hesse.
The coalition in Hesse could continue with a majority of just one seat in parliament.
The anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany, known as AfD, is projected to nearly triple its 2013 in Hesse, according to the exit polls, and would be represented in all of Germany's 16 regional parliaments as well as the federal assembly.
Hesse, an affluent region that hosts one
Yet despite its success, Hesse has become upended by the polarization of German politics The party system since the migration crisis of 2015.
"Volker Bouffier, the acting Prime Minister of Hess e and local CDU leader.
The political turmoil has severely diminished Ms. Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats, who have ruled in a grand coalition since 2013, while parties on
The political turmoil has severely diminished Ms. Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats, who have ruled in a grand coalition since 2013, while parties on the right and the left as the AfD and the Greens continue to rise.
Ms. Merkel said last week that no more time should be "wasted" on debating the events of 2015.
But in a sign of a mounting rebellion, one of her key leadership rivals, the health care minister Jens Spahn, appeared on television on
"We must strive to have debates, and not to try to shut them down," Mr Spahn said.
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