Germany has moved closer to getting its first state governor from a party with communist roots as the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's fall approaches.

Germany's main center-left party, the Social Democrats, said Tuesday a party ballot in eastern Thuringia state showed 70 percent favoring negotiations to join a regional government led by Left Party candidate Bodo Ramelow.

The Social Democrats finished third in an indecisive September election, but their decision will be crucial in the formation of a new state government.

Ramelow himself wasn't a communist, but his party is descended partly from East Germany's communist rulers. President Joachim Gauck, a former East German pro-democracy activist, has signaled unease about it leading a state government.

Thuringia's state legislature is expected to elect the governor in a few weeks.