Merkel coalition, rivals in tight German state election
BERLIN (AP) - Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative-led coalition was neck-and-neck with Germany's centre-left opposition in a state election on Sunday that was a major test ahead of a national vote later this year, projections showed.
Lower Saxony state, which occupies a swathe of north-western Germany, has been run for the past decade by a coalition of Dr Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats and the pro-market Free Democrats, the same parties that form the national government.
Dr Merkel will seek a third four-year term in national parliamentary elections expected in September. She and her party are riding high in polls, but the opposition hoped Lower Saxony will show she is vulnerable.
Projections for ARD and ZDF television, based on an exit poll and partial counting, showed Dr Merkel's Christian Democrats winning just over 36 per cent in Sunday's election for a new state legislature in Lower Saxony and their junior coalition partner, the Free Democrats, about 10 per cent.