German Chancellor Angela Merkel's junior coalition partners have been forced to rally their voters after suffering a serious state-level defeat over the weekend, with national elections now only days away.
The pro-business Free Democrats, or FDP, lost its seats in the state legislature in Bavaria on Sunday, falling below the 5pc mark needed to enter state parliament.
They had been in Bavarian government with the Merkel-allied Christian Social Union, and the outcome highlighted uncertainty over Ms Merkel's chances of continuing her current centre-right coalition government at the national level.
The latest nationwide polls show the FDP at 5 or 6pc and Merkel's Christian Democratic Union at 40 or 41pc heading in to the September 22 election – enough to form a government together and govern for four more years.
But if the Free Democrats fall below the 5pc hurdle to get into federal Parliament, it could either force Ms Merkel to choose another coalition partner or give other parties the opportunity to combine forces to form a government themselves.
"This is a wake-up call for all in Germany," said party general secretary Patrick Doering. Vice Chancellor Philipp Roesler, the Free Democrats' leader, warned voters on television yesterday that if the party doesn't make it into the federal Parliament, Germany's centre-left could team up with a hard-left rival to take power.
"Nobody wants that," he said. He sought to downplay the weekend defeat, however, saying "the situation nationally is totally different from Bavaria."