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Merkel coalition, rivals in tight state election

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 20, 2013 at 11:15 a.m.

— An exit poll points to a neck-and-neck race between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative-led coalition and the center-left opposition in a major state election that is a significant test ahead of a national vote later this year.

The ARD television exit poll Sunday showed Merkel’s Christian Democrats winning 36 percent in Sunday’s election for a new state legislature in Lower Saxony and their junior coalition partner, the Free Democrats, 10 percent.

The opposition Social Democrats and Greens hope to oust them from the regional government; the exit poll put their support at 32.5 and 13.5 percent respectively.

Merkel will seek a third four-year term in a national election expected in September. The opposition hoped for a boost from Lower Saxony.

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