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Germany's governing parties punished in state election

•, Geir Moulson

Merkel's conservatives emerged with an extremely lackluster win from the vote for the central Hesse region's state legislature. Her center-left governing partners' dismal performance left them level with the resurgent Greens in second place, while the far-right Alternative for Germany entered the last of Germany's 16 state parliaments.

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Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union was defending its 19-year hold on Hesse, previously a stronghold of the center-left Social Democrats, the chancellor's coalition partners in Berlin.

Speculation has been widespread before the vote that a disastrous result for either or both parties could further destabilize the national government, prompting calls for the Social Democrats to walk out and possibly endangering Merkel's own position. On

Sunday, government leaders appeared keen to try and keep the show on the road.

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