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

HANOVER Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:26pm EST

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HANOVER Jan 20 (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.

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