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Would-be Merkel successor Laschet loses ground in local election win

BERLIN, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Germany’s Christian Democrats were set for an election win in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia on Sunday, an exit poll showed, but their share of the vote shrank, denting state premier Armin Laschet’s ambitions to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Laschet, who is positioning himself as the continuity candidate to succeed Merkel, had hoped to increase the Christian Democrats’ share of the vote in the local elections to boost his standing ahead of a December party leadership showdown.

But an infratest dimap forecast for broadcaster WDR based on exit polls showed support for the CDU slipping 1.5 percentage points from the last local elections in 2014 to 36.0%.

The left-leaning Social Democrats (SPD) came second with 23.5% and the Greens third with 19.0%. (Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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