World | Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:27pm GMT

German SPD ousts Merkel coalition in state after close-run vote

Lower Saxony federal state premier David McAllister of the Christian Democratic Union party (CDU) and his wife Dunja (centre L) cast their votes in the Lower Saxony state election at a polling station in the northern German town of Bad Bederkesa January 20, 2013.
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Lower Saxony federal state premier David McAllister of the Christian Democratic Union party CDU casts his vote in the Lower Saxony state election at a polling station in the northern German town of Bad Bederkesa January 20, 2013.
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Lower Saxony federal state premier David McAllister of the Christian Democratic Union party CDU casts his vote in the Lower Saxony state election at a polling station in the northern German town of Bad Bederkesa January 20, 2013.
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Doris Schroeder-Koepf (L) candidate of the Social Democrats (SPD) and her husband former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (2nd R) make their way to a polling station to cast their votes in the Lower Saxony federal state election in Hanover January 20, 2013.
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HANOVER (Reuters) - Germany's centre left ousted Angela Merkel's conservatives in Lower Saxony on Sunday after winning a state election by a tiny majority, potentially reviving the Social Democrats' (SPD) hopes of unseating the chancellor in a national vote in September.

The SPD and their Greens allies won just one more seat than Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Free Democrat (FDP) allies, according to official results more than six hours after voting ended and exit polls indicated a dead heat.

The SPD and Greens won a combined 46.3 percent against 45.9 percent for the centre-right, with the FDP defying predictions they would fail to win a seat and scoring 9.9 percent - twice what they had been forecast to get.

(Reporting by Stephen Brown)

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