BERLIN - Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives are in a dead-heat with the rival Social Democrats (SPD) for first place in an election in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, exit polls showed on Sunday.
German TV network ARD showed Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) on 30.5 percent and the SPD on 29.5 % based on the first exit polls after the voting stations closed at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT). The result would give both parties 22 seats in the 69-seat assembly.
The unclear outcome could lead to many weeks of negotiations to find a new government, with an unusually large number of coalition options possible, including a "grand coalition" of the two big parties or three-way governments involving smaller parties.
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