BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and the rival Social Democrats (SPD) are nearly tied ahead of a crucial regional election in the state of Lower Saxony, a poll conducted by a German newspaper showed on Monday.
The poll by the Hannoverschen Allgemeine Zeitung put the CDU on 33.1 percent, while the Social Democrats - who now rule the state with the environmentalist Greens - were at 32.8 percent.
The Oct. 15 election is being followed closely because it follows just three weeks after national elections and will delay federal coalition talks since parties are reluctant to alienate core voters by making compromises ahead of the vote.
The poll showed the Greens were in third place with 9.9 percent of the vote, followed by far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party with 8.1 percent, the pro-business Free Democrats with 8 percent and the far-left Left party at 5.4 percent.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Paul Carrel)