Page last updated at 17:53 GMT, Sunday, 30 August 2009 18:53 UK

Merkel faces state poll setbacks

Frank-Walter Steinmeier
The Social Democrats' Frank-Walter Steinmeier was upbeat over the polls

Initial results in the regional polls in Germany suggests a setback for Chancellor Angela Merkel a month before the country's general election.

Counting so far indicates her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) may lose control of two states - Saarland in the west and Thuringia in the east.

The CDU may hold on to control in Saxony, the partial results suggest.

The vote is being closely watched for clues as to how the chancellor's party will perform nationally.

'Big mistake'

The CDU is still enjoying a 15-point opinion poll lead over the Social Democrats for the national election.

In Saarland and Thuringia, the CDU vote is said to be 10 percentage points down on the last election, although how new coalition governments will be formed there may not be decided for a number of weeks.

CDU general secretary Ronald Pofalla has already expressed disappointment at the elections.

But he said: "We remain the only people's party in Germany."

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, of the Social Democrats, was upbeat.

"Those who said that the [national] election was already decided have made a big mistake."

The general election will be held on 27 September.

The BBC's Tristana Moore in Berlin says that so far the campaign has been very dull but the regional election results will be a significant psychological boost to the Social Democrats as they seek to claw back support.

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