September 18, 2011 / 4:10 PM / 9 years ago

German SPD tops Merkel party in Berlin state vote

BERLIN, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats beat Angela Merkel’s conservatives in a regional election in the city-state of Berlin on Sunday, handing the chancellor her sixth defeat in seven elections this year.

The SPD won 29.5 percent of the vote in Berlin, down from 30.8 percent in 2006 in Germany’s largest city with 3.4 million inhabitants, according to an exit poll on ARD television. SPD Mayor Klaus Wowereit appeared to be headed for a third five-year term, with the Greens as his most likely coalition partner.

The CDU won 23.5 percent, up slightly from 21.3 percent in 2006 but well below the 40 percent the party used to win in Berlin in the 1980s and 1990s. The Greens won 18 percent, up from 13.1 percent in 2006, and the Left party fell to 11.5 percent from 13.4 percent. The Pirate Party won a stunning 8.5 percent.

Merkel’s centre-right coalition suffered more bad news in the Berlin election when their junior coalition partners at the national level, the Free Democrats, failed to clear the five percent threshold — the fifth time in seven elections this year the FDP. The FDP plunged to 2 percent, down from 7.6 percent in 2006. (Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum, Stephen Brown, Alexandra Hudson and Natalia Drozdiak)

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