Berlin, March 27 (IANS) German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) on Sunday won a regional election in the western state of Saarland with 40 per cent of the votes, exit poll results showed.
According to the results reported by ZDF public TV, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) obtained 30 per cent of the votes, in a setback to its new national leader, Martin Schulz, the former European Parliament President and current candidate for the chancellorship.
The Left Party obtained 13 per cent of the votes, dispelling potential hopes for an alliance with the SPD as an alternative to a "grand coalition" between the CDU and the SPD, EFE news reported.
The CDU currently governs Saarland.
The ultrarightist, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) garnered 6 per cent of the votes, giving it seats in 11 of Germany's 16 state parliaments after gaining access last year to the parliaments in Saxony-Anhalt and Baden Wurttemberg.
The Greens, which captured only 4.5 per cent of the ballots, will remain out of the regional chamber as they did not exceed the 5 per cent vote threshold.
The election in Saarland is the first test at the ballot box during Germany's election year, six months before the September 24 contest pitting the CDU against the SPD.
The regional elections in Saarland are a barometer for the so-called "Schulz effect", after he was elected to head the SPD a week ago with 100 per cent of the votes of his party colleagues.
The CDU -- along with its partner, the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) -- and the SPD are tied at 33 per cent in the voter surveys at this point in the election cycle.