• AFP-JIJI, REUTERS

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After early German election results showed them neck-and-neck on Sunday, the two main rivals vying to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor both said they would try to head the next government — kick-starting a scramble for potential coalition partners.

Official figures published soon after by the country’s election commission showed the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) had won the general election with 25.7%, with them beating Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc — a political alliance between the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) — which came in at 24.1%. The result is the worst yet for Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc.

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