Huge defeat for German Free Democrats in Saarland

Saarland state governor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and her husband Helmut celebrate the CDU's victory
Image caption Mrs Merkel's CDU won a clear victory in the state

The junior partners in Germany's coalition government have suffered one of their worst ever defeats in polls in the tiny western Saarland region.

Initial results suggest the Free Democrats (FDP) got less than 2% of the vote and lost all their seats.

But Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats won a clear victory over the opposition.

The FDP's collapse could leave Mrs Merkel searching for a new coalition partner for 2013 federal elections.

The party has now lost all its seats in five state legislatures and faces annihilation in two more in May.

Its support has declined since it failed to deliver on a 2009 campaign pledge to cut taxes.

Mrs Merkel's CDU increased its share of the vote to 35.2% in Saarland, giving it an unexpectedly clear victory over the opposition Social Democrats whose vote also rose.

The two parties are expected to join in a grand coalition in the state.

The new Pirate party also entered the state parliament in their second regional poll success. They won seats in Berlin last year.

More on this story