A law requiring public buildings in the southern German state of Bavaria to display the crucifix has gone into effect. State premier Markus Söder says it's a cultural move to serve as a reminder of Bavaria's Catholic traditions.
As the polls open in Bavaria, voters are caught between tradition and change. For some the vote is a referendum on Angela Merkel's government, but for others it's a chance to protest the CSU.
The Free Voters have scored a record number of votes in Sunday's Bavarian state election and are likely to become part of the government coalition. Here are some facts about the small conservative party.
In what some have described as a bellwether for German politics, millions of Bavarians are casting their votes in state elections. With the CSU expecting a poor performance, the poll could spell trouble for Merkel.
In a further erosion of Germany's political mainstream, the Bavarian conservative party, the CSU, has lost its absolute majority. Meanwhile the Greens have become the second-largest political force in southern Germany.
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