Merkel’s party ahead in local votes in northern German state

BERLIN (AP) — The center-right candidate hoping to succeed Angela Merkel as Germany’s chancellor is celebrating his party’s narrow victory in local elections in a northern German state. That vote Sunday came two weeks before Germany’s national election, in which candidate Armin Laschet is struggling in the polls. The vote for local councils in Lower Saxony, in Germany’s northwest, offered the Christian Democratic Union party some cheer, even though nationwide polls currently show that center-right party slightly behind the center-left Social Democrats. The three candidates for chancellor faced off Sunday night in the second of three televised debates. Polls afterward suggested that the Social Democrat candidate Olaf Scholz made the best impression.