German voters punished Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and coalition ally the Social Democrats in European polls on Sunday, exit polls showed, but the pro-business Free Democrats made gains before September's federal vote.
Support for Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), fell to 38.5 percent from 44.5 percent in 2004 although they were still the strongest grouping, ARD television exit polls showed.
The biggest gainers were the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) who won 11.0 percent, up from 6.1 percent.
The FDP is Merkel's preferred coalition partner but it is unclear if the two parties will be able to muster enough support in September to form a government, partly because the FDP is stealing votes mainly from the CDU, analysts say.
The Social Democrats (SPD), who have shared power with Merkel's conservatives in a loveless "grand coalition" since 2005, saw their vote slide to a historic low of 21.0 percent from 21.5 percent in 2004, according to ARD's forecasts.
"This is a hard evening for us. We have not managed to mobilise our voters," said SPD Chairman Franz Muentefering.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Haziran 2009, 16:30