BERLIN -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel says a state election loss months before a national vote was painful -- but she's downplaying the implications for her quest for a third term.
Merkel stressed Monday she still aims to win a new four-year term for the center-right coalition of her conservatives and their struggling junior partners, the Free Democrats.
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Germany's center-left opposition ejected those parties from the government of Lower Saxony state Sunday by a wafer-thin margin. It was one of the last major tests before national parliamentary elections, due in September.
Lower Saxony's conservative governor lost his job despite his personal popularity -- and surveys show Merkel herself is much more popular than her coalition with the pro-market Free Democrats.