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Voting is now closed in the German federal election.
A four-way race between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, their centre-left rivals the Social Democrats, the far-right Alternative for Germany and the Greens is too close to call.
Exit polls suggest that the CDU has gained about 21% of the vote, the Greens 20% and the SDP about 19%.
The Alternative for Germany (AfD) is expected to win a quarter of the vote, its best result in its history.
A final tally is not expected before late on Monday.
The CDU and the SPD, who have been uneasy partners for almost a decade, had become dominant in Germany since the end of World War II until the AfD ousted them from the parliament in last year’s state elections in Saxony and Thuringia.
Victory for the SDP would be seen as a boost for Mrs Merkel, who is set to continue her 12-year reign as chancellor.
A conservative victory in her home state would also be a blow to the AfD, which has dominated the polls in recent weeks.
Many Christian Democrats fear the AfD will usher in an era of Christian Democratic rule for decades.
“They have no place in our way of life,” a CDU-supporting couple, Rebekah and Tobias, told the BBC in the town of Treptow, near Cologne.
Some academics argue that it will be easier for Mrs Merkel to govern if she has such a strong coalition partner.