BERLIN — Germany’s governing parties lost significant support in a state election Sunday that was marked by discontent with infighting in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s national government and prompted calls for her administration to get its act together quickly.

Merkel’s conservatives appeared headed for an extremely lackluster win in the vote for thelis central Hesse region’s state legislature. Her center-left governing partners were on course for a dismal result, running neck-and-neck with the Greens for second place.

Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union was defending its 19-year hold on Hesse, previously a stronghold of the center-left Social Democrats, the chancellor’s coalition partners in Berlin.

There was widespread pre-election speculation that a disastrous result for either or both parties could further destabilize the national government, prompting calls for the Social Democrats to walk out and possibly endangering Merkel’s own position. But government leaders appeared keen Sunday to keep the show on the road.

Andrea Nahles, the Social Democrats’ leader, said that “the state of the government is unacceptable.”

She said her party would insist on Merkel’s governing coalition agreeing on “a clear, binding timetable” for implementing projects, and that how that is done ahead of an already-agreed midterm review next fall will show “whether we are still in the right place in this government.”

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