One economist said the results had created a "landslide" in German politics amid already tense relations and policy disagreements between the parties within the 'grand coalition' – not least of all between Merkel and Horst Seehofer, the head of the CSU.
"Sunday's elections in Bavaria will have created a landslide. Not only for Bavaria but probably also for German national politics," Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING, said in a note Sunday. "Given that the CSU had reached an absolute majority in twelve out of the last thirteen elections, this result marks a political landslide."
Relations between Merkel and the CSU leader Seehofer have been strained in recent months despite the CDU and CSU being long-standing political allies. Seehofer has been openly critical of Merkel's more permissive stance on refugees and migration policy. ING's Brzeski remarked that this strategy had backfired on the CSU with it hemorrhaging voters to both the left and right.
"The party's strategy to criticize Chancellor Angela Merkel's stance on refugees and migration did not work out well. Instead, the party left the political center vacant, leading to the increase of the Greens as a kind of liberal alternative for the CSU. The Greens won many votes in Bavarian cities. At the same time, the CSU's strategy strengthened rather than prevented the AfD," he said.
Still, the CSU gained the highest share of the vote in Bavaria and analysts believe it could see a coalition with the Free Voters. "Currently, a coalition of CSU and Free Voters seems like the most probable outcome, which could keep the damage for the CSU limited, even though the party is shaken to its core and some personnel changes cannot be ruled it," Brzeski noted.