German state vote triumph boosts Merkel’s center-right bloc

BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right bloc is claiming momentum for the election in September that will choose Germany’s next leader after a larger-than-expected win in the last regional ballot before the nation votes. But the victory in a sparsely populated eastern state where it faced a challenge from the far right was foremost a triumph for the popular state governor. Sunday’s success in Saxony-Anhalt gives CDU leader Armin Laschet — the party’s candidate to succeed four-term chancellor Merkel — reason to celebrate after a bumpy start. Sunday’s results were disappointing for the other two parties — the Greens and the Social Democrats — who are competing for the chancellery.