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Merkel's Conservatives set for losses as Berlin votes

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-09-18

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives look headed for hefty losses in Sunday's regional elections in the city-state of Berlin. The centre-left Social Democrats are tipped to remain in control with either the Greens or the Left party.

REUTERS - Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives face a heavy defeat in a regional election on Sunday that would extend their losing streak to six states this year and weaken her hand before a crucial euro zone vote in parliament.

Opinion polls show Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) will win about 22 percent of the vote in the city-state of Berlin on Sunday and come a distant second to the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), who are forecast to win about 31 percent and stay in power with either the Greens or the Left party.

The polls in Berlin opened at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) and the first exit polls will be announced immediately after polls close at 6 p.m. (1400 GMT). It was raining heavily in Berlin on Sunday morning and weather forecasts called for more showers.

There could be more bad news for Merkel’s centre-right coalition in Berlin if her junior coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP), fail to win at least five percent of the vote and are ejected from the state assembly.

It would be the fifth time in seven elections this year that the FDP had failed to win five percent and could increase pressure on the party, which won a record 14.6 percent in the 2009 federal election, to remove Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. Polls show the FDP at about 2 percent.

Another surprise on Sunday could be the performance of the Pirate Party, a German branch of a party that emerged in Sweden five years ago to campaign for reform of copyright and better privacy in the Internet age. Polls show the party winning 9 percent.

Merkel, under fire for her hesitant leadership in the euro zone crisis, is halfway through a four-year term. But election setbacks for her CDU have hurt her standing before the vote on euro zone measures in parliament at the end of September.
 

Date created : 2011-09-18

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