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A new opinion poll shows that two-thirds of Social Democrats oppose a coalition with Mrs. Merkel, but the majority of Germans support a coalition.

Social Democratic leaders say they will seek approval from their 470,000 members before agreeing to a coalition.

Mrs. Merkel might find it easier to build a coalition with the Greens, which received 8.4 percent of the vote. Although they are further to the left than the Social Democrats, they are desperate to get a role in a governing coalition, analysts say.

They were part of a coalition with the Social Democrats from 1998 to 2005, when Mrs. Merkel formed her first government.