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Elections highlight close of Green Party conference

Germany's Green Party has wrapped up its three day conference, affirming their coalition intentions. The party has reached out to voters as it prepares for next year's election.

Green Party leaders confirmed they wished to team up with the center-left Social Democrats Party (SPD) Sunday at the conclusion of their three-day conference in Hanover, not Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU).

Former environmental minister Jürgen Trittin said his Green Party is already in election mode. There were early rumors that the Greens might partner with their longtime political enemy, but it appears a coalition with the CDU has been ruled out.

The CDU previously teamed with the Greens in the city state of Hamburg, forming a successful majority coalition for three years until 2011.

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Germany's Greens wrap up party conference

Tritten, who is considered a top candidate in next September's elections, cited differences between the two parties on social justice, open society, and the shift from nuclear to renewable energy - core principles for Greens.

"We don't want the CDU, we only want your voters," Katrin Göring-Eckhart, a Lutheran church leader and the Greens other top electoral candidate, told the conference.

Göring-Eckhart, a more centrist politician, is believed to be capable of snatching votes from the CDU.

"[She] is in the center and will attract some conservative votes," Thomas Jäger, a political scientist at Cologne University, told the Reuters news agency. "But the question is will the party follow her into the center or will she move left? I think the Greens are going to have a hard time winning over lots of CDU voters."

Teaming with SPD

Current polls put the CDU at 39 percent, clearly ahead of the SPD, who are at 30 percent. The Greens poll at 13 percent, meaning they would be crucial in forming a parliamentary coalition with the SPD to gain a majority and oust Merkel's party from power.

The CDU is currently in a coalition with the liberal Free Democrats (FDP). At a party event in the eastern city of Leipzig, Merkel said she believes the CDU-FDP coalition "is the best thing for our country."

Earlier in the 800-delegate conference, the Greens re-elected Cem Özdemir and Claudia Roth as party chiefs, with the latter garnering 88 percent support.

The Greens entered parliament in the 1980's and became a governing party for the first time in a Red-Green coalition with the SPD from 1998 until 2005, when the CDU took power.

dr/mr (dpa, Reuters)

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