Hamburg (dpa) – Around 1.3 million people aged 16 and over are voting for a new regional government in the northern German port city of Hamburg on Sunday in which the junior coalition partner at national level could score a rare electoral success.
The performance of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens, who have governed the city-state together since 2015, is being followed with interest.
The second mayor and leading Green candidate Katharina Fegebank wants to take over the post of primary mayor from Peter Tschentscher of the SPD.
In surveys over the past few weeks, however, the SPD was consistently ahead of the Greens.
Nationally, the SPD has been in a tailspin, so success in Hamburg would give the ailing party a much-needed boost. The Greens have been riding high, often coming in second in national opinion polls to the conservative bloc of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) have been under pressure locally since the political crisis in the central state of Thuringia.
The election of the FDP politician Thomas Kemmerich to the post of Thuringia state premier with votes from the CDU and far-right anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) could have harmed both parties. It was the first time a state premier was elected with votes from the AfD.
Fifteen parties are competing for the 121 seats in the Hamburg parliament, two more than in the election five years ago.
It is currently the only state election in Germany this year.
Polling stations are open between 8 am and 6 pm (0700-1700 GMT).