DW: Merkel's CDU faces off against ruling SPD in key German state election
Voters in Germany's most populous state have been casting their ballots in a key vote ahead of September's national election. It's set to be a tight race between Chancellor Merkel's CDU and their ruling rivals, the SPD.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) are hoping to unseat North Rhine Westphalia's ruling Social Democrats (SPD) in a regional parliament election on Sunday.
Voter turnout was markedly higher than four years prior, officials said. By noon (1000 GMT), 34 percent of eligible voters had already cast their ballots - up from 29 percent at the same time during the last state election in 2012.
Over 13 million of NRW's 18 million residents are eligible to vote in Sunday's election - the most registered voters than any other German state. The SPD currently rules in coalition with the Greens who have been doing poorly in recent polls.
Prior to Sunday's vote, the CDU was polling at 32 percent, one point ahead of the SPD.
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More News On Germans Going To The Polls In A Critical State Election
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Germans vote in North Rhine-Westphalia state elections -- Al Jazeera
German Rust-Belt Voters Test Merkel in Last Election Warmup -- Bloombegr
Election in Germany's most populous state could boost Merkel -- AP
Germany's Merkel eager for victory in Schulz's opposition heartland -- BBC
Germany vote tests public opinion before election -- Al Jazeera
Forecast Shows Merkel's CDU Wins Election in Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia -- Sputnik
Schulz train stalls ahead of vital German election -- DW
Angela Merkel Hopes to Consolidate Gains in Big German State Election -- NYT
Merkel plays local politics ahead of NRW vote -- DW