People in the German state of Hesse—which includes Frankfurt, the nation's fifth-largest city, and close to 4.4 million voters—will head to the polls on October 28th for a statewide election. Pundits and politics-watchers are calling the election a referendum on Chancellor Angela Merkel's government.
Typically, Hesse's state elections don't draw this much attention. But Merkel's party, the Christian Democrats (CDU), lost its majority in Bavaria two weeks ago. Now, a loss in Hesse could indicate an even greater erosion of Merkel's authority.
Merkel is being challenged from the left and the right: The German Green Party is polling well and hoping to establish itself as a major centrist power, while the anti-immigrant, right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD)—Euro-skeptics who oppose Merkel—might enter Hesse's parliament for the first time.
CDU and its partners in the federal coalition, the Social Democrats (SPD), are polling below their usual numbers. But in Berlin, Merkel and her allies are trying to downplay the national importance of the election.