Reuters

Merkel suffers setback months before federal vote

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pictured during a news conference at the headquarters of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party CDU in Berlin January 21, 2013. Months before German general elections, Merkel received a bitter defeat in an extremely tight German state election by losing power to the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, who together garnered just one more seat in the Lower Saxony state assembly than...more

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pictured during a news conference at the headquarters of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party CDU in Berlin January 21, 2013. Months before German general elections, Merkel received a bitter defeat in an extremely tight German state election by losing power to the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, who together garnered just one more seat in the Lower Saxony state assembly than the centre-right. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel pauses as she address a news conference following a board meeting of the Christian Democratic Union party CDU in Berlin January 21, 2013. Months before German general elections, Merkel received a bitter defeat in an extremely tight German state election on Sunday by losing power to the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, who together garnered just one more seat in the Lower Saxony state...more

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pauses as she address a news conference following a board meeting of the Christian Democratic Union party CDU in Berlin January 21, 2013. Months before German general elections, Merkel received a bitter defeat in an extremely tight German state election on Sunday by losing power to the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, who together garnered just one more seat in the Lower Saxony state assembly than the centre-right. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
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File photo of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel arriving at the European Union (EU) council headquarters for an EU leaders summit in Brussels November 23, 2012. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/Files

File photo of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel arriving at the European Union (EU) council headquarters for an EU leaders summit in Brussels November 23, 2012. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/Files
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Stephan Weil, top candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), celebrates as he hears an official preliminary election result showing him as the winner of the state elections for Lower Saxony in Hanover January 20, 2013. Election results show a coalition of the SPD and Germany's green party one parliamentary seat ahead of a conservative opposition with German chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the...more

Stephan Weil, top candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), celebrates as he hears an official preliminary election result showing him as the winner of the state elections for Lower Saxony in Hanover January 20, 2013. Election results show a coalition of the SPD and Germany's green party one parliamentary seat ahead of a conservative opposition with German chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP). REUTERS/ Kai Pfaffenbach
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel pauses as she address a news conference following a board meeting of the Christian Democratic Union party CDU in Berlin January 21, 2013. Months before German general elections, Merkel received a bitter defeat in an extremely tight German state election on Sunday by losing power to the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, who together garnered just one more seat in the Lower Saxony state...more

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pauses as she address a news conference following a board meeting of the Christian Democratic Union party CDU in Berlin January 21, 2013. Months before German general elections, Merkel received a bitter defeat in an extremely tight German state election on Sunday by losing power to the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, who together garnered just one more seat in the Lower Saxony state assembly than the centre-right. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
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