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    Candidates in German State Elections Cast Their Ballots

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    The main candidates in two decisive German state elections cast their ballots. They expressed optimism as Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) could suffer a damaging defeat in Baden-Wuerttemberg for the first time in 57 years.

    The main candidates in two decisive German state elections cast their ballots. They expressed optimism as Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) could suffer a damaging defeat in Baden-Wuerttemberg for the first time in 57 years.

    The premier of Germany's most prosperous state Baden-Wuerttemberg on Sunday expressed optimism that an election defeat for Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) could still be averted.

    [Stefan Mappus, Candidate]:
    "I am very confident. I have a good feeling."

    According to latest polls, the CDU in Baden-Wuerttemberg could lose power to the Green party, making opponent Winfried Kretschmann Germany's first state premier from the Greens.

    The Social Democrats (SPD) and their likely allies, the fast-growing Greens, have gained the edge over Merkel's coalition of Christian Democrats (CDU) and Free Democrats (FDP), according to polls.

    The CDU, which has ruled conservative Baden-Wuerttemberg without interruption since 1953, has been hurt by Merkel's policy U-turns on nuclear power, Libya and the euro zone debt crisis.

    In another vote in neighboring Rhineland-Palatinate, the SPD is expected to retain power with the Greens' support.

    Incumbent SPD state premier Kurt Beck has ruled the state known for its wine regions since 1994.

    CDU candidate Julia Kloeckner believes her party will win.

    [Julia Kloeckner,CDU Candidate]:
    "I firmly believe the SPD's absolute majority will end today because they did not do well for this state."

    Exit polls for both state elections will be released at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT)