The BBC reports New election blow for Germany's Merkel
Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives have suffered heavy losses in an election in Germany's most populous state, exit polls suggest.
Support for the Christian Democrats dropped from 35% to 26% in North Rhine-Westphalia, with the Social Democrats set to return to power with the Greens.
It is the Christian Democrats' worst result in the state.
Analysts say many voters rejected Mrs Merkel's tough line on fiscal discipline as a cure for state debt.
In another development, the exit polls suggested Germany's Pirate Party had won seats in North Rhine-Westphalia, making it their fourth state...