German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s sister party was set to win a majority in Bavarian state elections, giving the incumbent a boost as she heads into the final week of her campaign before a national vote.
Merkel’s Christian Social Union sister party took 49 percent, regaining sole control of the country’s second-most populous state, according to exit polls on ZDF television. Led by Prime Minister Horst Seehofer, the CSU rebounded from 2008 when its worst result in more than 50 years forced it into coalition with the Free Democrats, who won 3 percent, below the 5 percent hurdle required to win seats in parliament.
Bavaria is a bellwether for the Sept. 22 federal vote, with the CSU majority lending Merkel momentum against her Social Democrat challenger, Peer Steinbrueck. Merkel is due to hold a rally on Sept. 20 in the state capital Munich that will be her eighth speech in Bavaria since July, underlining the region’s importance to her bid for a third term.
The opposition Social Democrats took 20.5 percent, while their Green party allies had 8.5 percent. The Free Voters, who want Greece to exit the euro, oppose euro-area bailouts and want to trim the power of the European Union, won 8.5 percent.
The first results based on partially counted ballots will be released from about 6:15 p.m. and preliminary final results are published about 11 p.m.
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