Richard North, 18/09/2005  
 

A television exit poll is showing Merkel's Christian Democrats emerging as the largest single party in the German elections, on 37 percent, against Schröder's Social Democrats at 33 percent. However, Merkel’s preferred coalition partner, the Free Democrats, is reported as polling only 10 percent.

Schröder former partners, the Greens polled 8 percent and the new Left Party, an alliance of Social Democrats unhappy with Schroeder's pro-business policies and former East German Communists, are polling the same.

Provisionally, therefore, a Left alliance can muster 49 percent, one percent more than Merkel, leaving the election result too close to call, even on the basis of the final exit poll. Both Schröder and Merkel are claiming victory.

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