Angela Merkel's allies swept to victory in a state election in Bavaria today, regaining the absolute assembly majority they lost in 2008.

The result is a boost for the conservative chancellor a week before Germany goes to the polls in federal elections.

The Christian Social Union, sister party of Ms Merkel's

Christian Democrats, won 49% according to TV projections.

They have governed the prosperous southern state for 56 years, but now have an absolute majority again.

However, the Bavarian ballot also delivered a worrying message for Ms Merkel, as the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), with whom she governs Germany in a centre-right coalition, slumped to just 3%, below the 5% level needed for assembly seats.

"The CSU is a people's party and we are deeply rooted in the Bavarian population. Every second Bavarian voted for us," state premier Horst Seehofer told elated supporters - fulfilling a pledge to Ms Merkel that his party would help set an upbeat tone for the national poll on 22 September.

The FDP sought to put a brave face on today’s disastrous result, which halted recent upward momentum for the party.

"This is a heavy defeat... but our response now is: let's get going ... Bavaria is different. Now it is about Germany," said party leader Philipp Roesler, calling it a "wake-up call".

Ms Merkel, whose conservative bloc stands at around 40%, needs the FDP to do well in the federal vote to avoid having to turn to the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), with whom she governed in her first term, from 2005 to 2009.

The FDP stands at around 5% nationally.