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Germans Vote in Regional Election

German Economy Minister and chairman of the German Free Democrats, Philipp Roesler, casts his ballot for the state election of Lower Saxony in Isernhagen, near Hannover, January 20, 2013.
Germans are voting in a regional election that is seen as a test for Chancellor Angela Merkel, eight months before nationwide legislative elections.

Polls opened Sunday in the northern state of Lower Saxony, which is governed by state premier David McAllister of Merkel's center-right alliance.

Analysts say the race has narrowed to a virtual tie with the center-left Social Democrat-Greens opposition.

The election is the last test before September, when polls for Bavaria will take place followed by national elections, which will determine whether Merkel will win a third term.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.