Regional elections are being held in Bavaria in Germany this weekend and the results could mean more bad news for Chancellor Angela Merkel and her fractious coalition government.
The Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), is contesting the vote on Sunday but there are concerns the party could lose its absolute majority amid both rising populism and anti-government sentiment.
The CDU and CSU were once staunch allies but a very public spat over migration policy has marred the partnership in recent months and nearly brought about the coalition's collapse earlier in summer.
The CSU has been openly critical of Merkel's more open policy towards migrants and is wary of losing more of its native political ground to the right-wing, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), which did well in last October's federal election.
As such, there's more at stake than just Bavaria's political future, the national government could be further weakened by the vote if the CSU fares badly and its performance is blamed on leader of the CSU, and Merkel's Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer.
More than that, the vote is being seen as a referendum on the coalition government and Merkel herself.
Teneo Intelligence's Macro Research team believed the CSU will lose its traditional absolute majority, having a knock-on impact on the party leadership.
"The CSU will either require a coalition partner, or, depending on the magnitude of its losses, might even have to go into opposition," the team said in a note published Tuesday. "Rather than Bavarian Minister President Markus Soeder, the CSU will blame its leader, Merkel's Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. Bavarian attempts to oust him have the potential to cause another protracted government crisis in Berlin."