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German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a top candidate of the Christian Democratic Union Party (CDU) for the upcoming general elections, waves to supporters as she campaigns in Barth, Germany, September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch


BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel, usually reluctant to speak on personal matters, on Tuesday conceded an early indiscretion -- smoking a cigarette and hiding the fact from her parents.

Merkel, the daughter of a pastor, was asked by broadcaster NDR about any "youthful sin" after her main challenger, former European Parliament president Martin Schulz, admitted to throwing a packet of laundry detergent into a public pool during one "crazy night".

"I smoked a cigarette fairly early on, and didn't tell my parents. So, a small sin, I would say," Merkel told NDR.

Merkel, 63, is poised to win a fourth term in a national election on Sept. 24. Her party has a double-digit lead over the Social Democrats, junior partners in the ruling coalition.

After 12 years in power, Chancellor Angela Merkel is presenting herself as more than just Germany's "Mutti", or mother, campaigning in cyberspace to get in with younger voters and win their support for long after elections this month.

Merkel has appeared on YouTube and attended Europe's biggest computer games convention as part of a drive to mobilise the almost 3 million first-time voters behind her conservative CDU party.

An opinion poll by Forsa in June found 57 percent of 18 to 21-year-olds backed Merkel compared with 53 percent of the wider population. Just 21 percent of the young supported Schulz.

British Prime Minister Theresa May answered a similar question before a snap election in June, in which she lost her parliamentary majority, by saying she ran through fields of wheat as a girl - prompting a wealth of social media ridicule.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal)

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