BERLIN (AP) -- The defeat of Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition in a high-profile state election is a blow to the German leader as she seeks a third term later this year. But it's far from clear that the opposition can build on its narrow win to oust the popular conservative.
The opposition Social Democrats and Greens ejected Merkel's center-right alliance from the government of Lower Saxony state Sunday, winning a single-seat majority in its legislature. It was a major test before national parliamentary elections, which are due in September.
Merkel said "a defeat hurts all the more" when it is so close, but stressed how close her coalition came to winning and insisted that a victory seemed "completely impossible" a few months ago. That, she said after leaders of her Christian Democratic Union met Monday, "is also a good message, that we can win."
Still, Lower Saxony's CDU governor lost his job despite his personal popularity -- and surveys show Merkel herself is considerably more popular than her coalition of the last 3
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