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German election finely balanced as Merkel departs after 16 years

The election to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor of Germany is finely balanced, according to exit polls, in what is one of the closest elections since World War Two.

One survey has the left of centre Social Democrats (SPD) ahead by two points, while another has them tied with Merkel’s conservative bloc.

Both Olaf Scholz of the SPD and Armin Laschet of the CDU could conceivably become chancellor of Germany at this stage.

The Green party looks set to come in third place followed by the populist Alternative for Germany party.

Merkel will be leaving after 16 years in power.

One of her legacies is to have changed the culture of German politics which was previously a male-dominated space.

Merkel entered politics with an unusual background as a physicist who holds a PhD in quantum chemistry.

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