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3:11 pm - Thursday November 23, 4473

State vote unlikely to give Merkel boost in German coalition talks

Agencies, Berlin

The north German state of Lower Saxony holds an election on Sunday that looks likely to hand the Social Democrats (SPD) a narrow victory, and deprive Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives of a boost in looming national coalition talks.

Voters disgruntled with Merkel’s liberal migrant policy abandoned her party in droves in September’s national election; having recorded the worst conservative result since 1949, she must now try to piece together an awkward alliance with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and environmentalist Greens.

Those parties will this week begin discussions that could drag into 2018 about entering a marriage of convenience untested at the federal level. The latest opinion poll put the SPD on 34.5 percent in Lower Saxony, giving it a 1.5 point lead over Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) – who had been 12 points ahead at the start of the campaign in August.

Simon Fink, political scientist at the University of Goettingen, said no one had dared to start coalition negotiations in Berlin ahead of the election in Lower Saxony, which is slightly bigger than the Netherlands and hosts major companies such as carmaker Volkswagen.

Posted in: World

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