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BERLIN (AP) — A senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party has been elected governor of Germany’s most populous state following an election last month that produced an unexpected center-right majority.

Armin Laschet, a liberal-minded deputy leader of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, succeeds Hannelore Kraft of the center-left Social Democrats as governor of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The state legislature in Duesseldorf elected Laschet on Tuesday. The new governor’s coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats has a one-seat majority.

North Rhine-Westphalia is a traditional center-left stronghold. Last month’s result raised hopes among some conservatives of a center-right comeback in a national election Sept. 24, in which Merkel is seeking a fourth term.

The Christian Democrats and Free Democrats governed Germany together from 2009 to 2013, when voters ejected the latter from the national parliament.