Bavarians head to the polls in key vote
Bavarians went to the polls in state elections Sunday that could see the conservatives lose their decades-old absolute majority and spell trouble for German Chancellor Angela Merkel at national level.
Ever since the 1960s Bavaria has been the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) and the CSU has been Bavaria, as much a part of the proud southern state's identity as lederhosen, beer, BMW and football team Bayern Munich.
But the elections on Sunday may see the end of this one party state, with the CSU facing the very real possibility of missing its target of "50 percent plus X," recent opinion polls suggest.
State premier Günther Beckstein put a brave face on what could be tough election day for his CSU while casting his vote in Nuremberg on Sunday morning. "I'm optimistic we'll receive a clear mandate to govern from the voters," he said, adding that there was no "Plan B" if they failed to get an absolute majority.
The CSU is the sister party to Merkel's governing Christian Democrats (CDU) and a poor result for the CSU could further sour the climate in her national "grand coalition" with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and make the battle to be re-elected in September 2009 trickier.