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Merkel rival faces uphill struggle in TV debate

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Merkel rival faces uphill struggle in TV debate


German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her main rival go head to head this evening in a live pre-election TV clash many see as a last chance for Frank-Walter Steinmeier to turn his campaign around.

With two weeks to go before election day, Steinmeier’s SPD party and Merkel’s Christian Democrats have been campaigning hard. Steinmeier has been criticised for leading a dull campaign and trails Merkel’s conservative party by between 11 and 12 points in the polls. The current Chancellor also remains the preferred choice among Germans, with a 30 to 40 percentage point lead over her rival. Steinmeier has also found it hard to show himself as an alternative, having served as foreign minister in Merkel’s grand coalition. According to one opinion poll, less than a fifth of the electorate say tonight’s debate will influence how they vote. Still, some observers believe Merkel’s lead could be whittled down if Steinmeier holds his own. On Friday, the SPD leader unveiled plans for a tax on financial deals aimed at wooing left-wing voters.

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