German election: Two main rivals neck-and-neck, exit poll shows

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An exit poll in Germany suggests the two main rivals are tied in an election that will determine who will succeed Angela Merkel.

No single party has ever won a total majority in the country's Bundestag (lower house of parliament), meaning politicians will likely be plunged into negotiations in the coming days.

The exit poll shows Mrs Merkel's CDU/CSU bloc and the centre-left Social Democrats neck-and-neck with about 25% of the vote.

It suggests the Greens could be on track to win as much as 15% and the far-right party AfD could garner 11%.

Voting closed at 5pm UK time in a bitterly fought election where no clear front-runner emerged to replace Mrs Merkel's after 16 years in power.

About 60.4 million people in the nation of 83 million were eligible to elect the new Bundestag, which will choose the next head of government.

Long-serving leader Ms Merkel has won praise for steering Germany through several major crises, including the financial crash and the coronavirus pandemic.

The new chancellor will have to lead the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which Germany so far has weathered relatively well thanks to large rescue programmes that have fuelled fresh debt.

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