Germany's SPD call for change in way federal coalition works

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Of the approximately 9.5 million eligible voters, 72.4% cast their votes, compared to 63.6% in 2013.

"My lesson from yesterday is that I, as chancellor of this 'grand coalition, ' must do more to ensure that this confidence is there and that the results of our work are visible", Merkel said. For the sake of Bavaria and all Germany, he must step down, as party leader and interior minister.

The humiliating result for Angela Merkel's two partners is a serious blow for her shaky coalition, yet by Monday morning no heads had rolled, despite calls from the CSU for party leader, Horst Seehofer, to resign.

Some analysts also predict that Merkel's sister party, the Christian Social Union or CSU, might now try and partner with the environmentalists to govern Bavaria. Official results are being counted and slowly released, with full results expected today.

But rather than shifting their allegiance mostly to the anti-immigrant far right, they gave the biggest boost to a rising liberal force: the pro-refugee Greens.

Although migration has been a major focal point of criticism against Merkel and her ruling coalition and the anti-immigration AfD won major gains, the pro-immigrant Greens came in second and almost doubled their voting numbers from 2013, in what is considered one of the most conservative regions of Germany.

"Of course this isn't an easy day for the CSU", the state's governor, Markus Soeder, told supporters in Munich, adding that the party accepted the "painful" result "with humility".

"We have not been able to free ourselves from the directional dispute in the CDU/CSU".

Seehofer also starred in a coalition crisis last month over Germany's domestic intelligence chief, who was accused of downplaying recent far-right violence against migrants.

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"It is totally undisputed that the way we have treated each other in the coalition, and also the way we argued with each other in the summer, was anything but inspiring for the state election in Bavaria", she said.

At the national level, that has meant a record seven parties in the parliament since elections past year, and a deeply dysfunctional governing coalition of three.

The SPD's deputy leader Ralf Stegner told Phoenix TV that "the citizens delivered a resounding slap" to the governing parties and that, unless they change, "the grand coalition won't last much longer".

"It is becoming increasingly clear to all parties involved that the current setup is not working in their favor".

The political battles, one centered on securing German borders against asylum seekers, have distracted Merkel's fourth-term government and angered voters. To ward off a mutiny in her coalition, she may be pressured to shake up her cabinet before the congress. It was the party's worst performance since 1950 in a state vote in Bavaria, which it has traditionally dominated.

"As party leader, I bear responsibility for this result, but it's a joint responsibility", Seehofer said. We have to analyze it. It will still govern, but now in a new coalition (probably with the so-called Free Voters, a party peculiar to Bavaria). One thing is for sure: "Despite certain debates and comments and forecasts, the CSU is not only the strongest party, it has remit to form government, and that has to be said as well in this context".

After Sunday's election, Seehofer, 69, insisted he would stay on as minister, even as a poll for news weekly Focus said 46 percent of Germans blame him and his brinkmanship for the CSU's historically-poor result.

The mainstream parties' debacle aside, the signs are that the far-right Alternative für Deutschland's (AfD) meteoric rise and the accompanying hype could be coming to an end. "The main priority is to form a stable government for Bavaria as quickly as possible, and we accept that task".

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