Merkel's party leads in state election: Exit poll
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) led its rivals in the election in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, a big boost of morale for the conservatives ahead of the September polls.
The CDU garnered 36 percent of the votes, up by 6.2 pe rcent compared to the last state election, while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) got 22.5 per cent, Xinhua news agency quoted an exit poll by local broadcaster ARD as saying after the election on Sunday.
The Left Party received 11 per cent of the votes and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) got 8.5 per cent, according to the poll.
Saxony-Anhalt's CDU leader Sven Schulze said the result was "very, very gratifying", expressing gratitude to the voters for giving the party a "clear government mandate".
The preliminary result was seen as a great relief for the ruling CDU as polls ahead of the election had predicted AfD was neck-and-neck with CDU, which is currently led by Armin Laschet, the governor of Germany's most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia.
Laschet, 59, is seen by local media as one of the potential successors of Merkel after she announced that she would not seek a fifth term in the September polls.
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