BERLIN – Exit polls indicate that Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party has emerged easily as the strongest party from an election in Germany's western Saarland state — an unexpectedly strong performance and a disappointment for her center-left rivals.
The exit polls for ARD and ZDF public television showed Merkel's Christian Democrats polling up to 41 percent in Sunday's election for Saarland's state legislature. The polls had their center-left rivals, the Social Democrats, receiving up to 30 percent of the vote.
Surveys ahead of the election — the first of three state votes scheduled before Merkel seeks a fourth term in a national election in September — suggested that the Social Democrats might be able to form a new coalition with the Left Party, which polled some 13 percent.
The nationalist Alternative for Germany was seen entering the state legislature with 6 percent of the vote.