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BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday slapped down an ally’s suggestion that her conservatives could work with the post-communist Left Party in the country’s east, an idea that appalls many on the right.

Germany’s political landscape has become increasingly fragmented in recent years — particularly in the formerly communist east, where the Left Party is a major force and the far-right Alternative for Germany is at its strongest.

That makes it increasingly hard to form governing coalitions, and three eastern states hold regional votes next year. In federalized Germany, state governments play an important role and regional political experiments can foreshadow national developments.

Daniel Guenther, the conservative governor of the western state of Schleswig-Holstein, said in a weekend newspaper interview that his Christian Democratic Union must be “pragmatic” if election results in the east make it impossible to form a coalition without the Left Party.

The Left Party won 9.2 percent of the vote in last year’s national election. A fusion of eastern ex-communists and other left-wingers created in 2005, it has experience of governing in several eastern states but tends to be more radically left-wing in the west.

Merkel has jettisoned many tenets of conservative orthodoxy and moved her party to the center in her nearly 13 years as chancellor, but an alliance with the Left Party so far has been off-limits — as has working with the far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD.

“If there are sensible people at work in the Left Party, it isn’t a mistake to seek sensible solutions,” Guenther was quoted as saying.

His comments drew criticism from many in the CDU, and Merkel wasn’t impressed.

“I don’t advocate working with the Left Party and that has been the case for many years,” she told reporters. “We will do everything in the upcoming elections in the (eastern) states to form governments under the CDU’s leadership without the Left Party and, of course, without AfD.”