The Social Democrats (SPD) of Germany beat the conservatives of Angela Merkel on Sunday in a vote in the northern state of Lower Saxony in a setback to Merkel as she prepares for this week’s tricky three-way coalition talks at the national level.
According to an exit poll from infratest dimap, the SPD, which has governed the swing state home to Volkswagen, the carmaker, with the Greens for around four years, won 37.5%, way above the 32.6 percent in the last election that was held in 2013.
The Christian Democrats (CDU) of Merkel received 35% of the vote in the rich agricultural state, a decrease from the 36% that was received during the last election there in 2013.
The environmentalist Greens, which is currently junior coalition partner to the SPD in Lower Saxony, won 8.5%.
The liberal Free Democrats (FDP) won 7% while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) cleared the 5% threshold to enter parliament with 5.5%.
Merkel’s conservatives, which obtained their worst result since 1949 during the national election in September, start exploratory talks with the Greens and FDP in Berlin this week as they try to cobble together a federal government.