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Stakes High for Merkel Gov't: German State of Hesse Holds Regional Election

© AP Photo / Michael KappelerGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for another round of pre-talks on forming a new German government at the headquarters of her Christian Democratic Union in Berlin Friday, Nov. 17, 2017.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for another round of pre-talks on forming a new German government at the headquarters of her Christian Democratic Union in Berlin Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Germany’s governing Christian Democrats and their Social Democratic allies in the federal coalition will be challenged in this Sunday’s regional polls in the central state of Hesse.

The most recent survey by ZDF suggested Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party was likely to win 28 percent of votes in the parliamentary election, down from 38.3 percent in the 2013 election.

Its regional coalition partner, the Greens, are expected to emerge as the biggest winner with a record 20 percent, while the Social Democratic Party (SPD) is projected to get 21 percent, down from 30.7 percent in 2013.

If true, these results suggest that the regional CDU-Green coalition will no longer be viable, German media said. More than that, the poll could undermine Merkel’s government in Berlin and threaten her reappointment as CDU boss in December.

READ MORE: AfD is Germany's 2nd Most Popular Political Force, Outranking the SPD — Poll

Frauke Petry (3rd, L), chairman of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, and the AfD's leading politician Alexander Gauland (4th, L) hold a banner reading Asylum needs limits during a demonstration against the German government's asylum policy organized by the AfD party in Berlin on November 7, 2015. - Sputnik International
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The CDU and SPD both suffered heavy losses in this month’s polls in Bavaria. Socialist party leader Andrea Nahles blamed SPD’s weak showing on "bad performance" of the federal coalition, triggering a debate on whether it should quit the government as it initially promised.

Mirroring the Bavarian election, the Hesse vote could mean big gains for the anti-migrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which is projected to win 12 percent of votes, up from 4.1 percent five years ago.

The AfD was the only party to bring up migration during the election campaign, according to the ARD public broadcaster, despite it being the second-most discussed issue after education.

READ MORE: Germany's CDU Flirting With Military Conscription Idea Amid Polls Setback — AfD

Crumbling schools and lack of teachers is the biggest concern for voters in the well-off state of Hesse, with 40 percent saying education was their top priority. Migration was important to 29 percent of responders, trailed by infrastructure and housing with 22 and 21 percent of voters.

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