Provisional results show Germany’s conservatives have taken an early lead over Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrats in a key vote in Dresden. Figures broadcast on German television suggest Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats could extend their three seat lead in the German parliament to four.Turnout was said to be high for the ballot, which was held two weeks after last month’s inconclusive general election because of the death of a candidate. A win for Merkel could give her the edge over Gerhard Schroeder as they battle over who will be Germany’s chancellor. Although it will have a small impact on the outcome of the general election, the Dresden ballot is seen by observers as an important battle between Merkel and Schroeder for psychological supremacy. The final result will help determine the shape of possible talks aimed at forming a so-called grand coalition between the two parties. But with Merkel and Schroeder both claiming the chancellor’s office, negotiations may never get off the ground.