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German Exit Polls Hint At Narrow Center-Right Majority

BERLIN (Reuters) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives appear to have won just enough votes in a German election to form a center-right government with their preferred partners, the Free Democrats (FDP), exit polls showed.

An exit poll from ZDF television put support for Merkel's conservative bloc -- her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) -- at 33.5 percent and showed the FDP on 14.5 percent.

Together, their total narrowly exceeded that of the other three main parties combined, putting Merkel on track for a second term and suggesting she will be able to end her awkward "grand coalition" with the rival Social Democrats (SPD).

As head of a center-right government with the business-friendly FDP, Merkel would be expected to push for tax relief and extend the lifespan of German nuclear plants.

The SPD stood at 23.5 percent, according to the exit poll, their lowest score in the postwar era.