Berlin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative-liberal coalition has suffered a debacle in her home state of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania in an election which was widely seen as a popularity test.
   
Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) lost 5.5 percent of the votes and polled 23.3 per cent, its worst defeat in the former East German state since the reunification 20 years ago, while her coalition partner Free Democratic Party (FDP) was forced to leave the state parliament in Schwerin for failing to poll the minimum five per cent votes needed to remain in the house.
   
The FDP received only 2.8 per cent votes, one of the worst results for the party in a state election.
   
The election in Mecklenburg Western Pomerania on the Baltic Sea coast was widely seen as a test of popularity of Chancellor Merkel's coalition government as it approached the half-way mark of its four-year term next month.
   
Even though the election results have no direct impact on her government, they are bound to increase the tension within the coalition, which is already divided over a planned expansion of the euro zone's bailout fund, tax reduction and other policy issues.
   
On Sunday's election setback for Merkel's coalition comes at a time when Germany’s European partners are looking for a strong leadership from Berlin to deal with the euro zone debt crisis, which is threatening to spread to larger economies such as Italy and Spain.
   
"We are deeply disappointed by such a heavy loss for the CDU," parliamentary manager of the party Peter Altmaier said in Berlin.
   
"However, the results are a clear vote for a continuation of the present grand coalition," he said, participating in a discussion.
   
The Social Democratic Party (SPD), which is in the opposition in Berlin, emerged as the main winner of the election by consolidating its position as the largest political force in the state with a share of 36.5 per cent votes, 6.3 per cent votes more than in the last election in 2006, according to provisional results.

Erwin Sellering, the SPD's leading candidate and prime minister in the out-going government, is set to form a new government in Schwerin either as a continuation of his present "grand coalition" with the CDU or as the leader of a new coalition with the Left party, which consolidated its position as the state’s third largest political force.
   
He said he will hold discussions with all major parties represented in the new parliament before picking up a partner for his next coalition government.
   
The Left party, which was formed some years ago by merging the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) in eastern Germany and a break-away group of the SPD in the west polled 18 per cent votes, 1.4 per cent more than in the last election.
   
Besides the SPD, the ecological Green party also made impressive gains in the election and entered the state parliament for the first time by securing 8.5 per cent votes, 5.1 per cent more than in the last election.

With this victory, the Green party became the third mainstream political party after the CDU and the SPD to be represented in all 16 German state parliaments.
   
Germany's major democratic parties failed in their attempt to prevent the right extremist party NPD from reentering the parliament as it managed to cross the threshold with 5.8 per cent votes.
   
The FDP achieved one of the worst results in a state election by polling only 2.8 per cent of the votes, compared to 9.6 per cent achieved five years ago.

FDP General Secretary Christian Lindner said it was ‘bitter’ for his party that it will no longer be represented in the state parliament.

(Agencies)