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Merkel's party CDU remains largest in German state election: exit polls

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-03-27 09:25

BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party CDU was ahead with a clear lead over rival SPD in the Saarland state elections, exit polls showed on Sunday.

The vote was the first in a series leading up to German federal elections in September.

Some 800,000 eligible voters cast their ballots. Exit polls showed that CDU was ahead with 41 percent with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) trailing behind on 29.5 percent.

The Left party (Linke) was reported to have won 13 percent of the votes, Alternative for Germany (AfD) 6 percent and the Greens 4.5 percent.

The outcome of the vote in Germany's smallest non-city state is being widely watched as a sign of voter sentiment ahead of state elections in Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia in May, and federal elections in September, German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) reported.

Some local analysts saw the result as a boost to Merkel's ruling political union, and a major setback for SPD, whose leader Martin Schulz failed to transform his popularity into ballot tickets.

In the past several months, some opinion polls have constantly showed Schulz will have the edge over his major competitor Merkel in the coming federal election.

The CDU has ruled the southwestern state for the past 18 years.

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