Germany looks set for a lively election in a year’s time after the opposition Social Democrats announced outspoken former Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück will challenge Angela Merkel as chancellor.
That sets the stage for a much more confrontational campaign than Merkel faced in 2009.
Steinbrück told a news conference he was not interested in serving in another conservative-led “grand coalition” as happened from 2005-2009, but wanted to head a completely new government with the Greens as allies.
Steinbrück is a gamble for the SPD. He is known for speaking his mind and ruffling feathers. That could appeal to those voters who see Merkel as too cautious, but it risks alienating others. In the end his proven financial skills may be his best asset.
The announcement is great timing for the publishers of a new biography on Steinbrück which asks the question: “He is sharp-edged, he is smart, he has been tested in a crisis. Is he the next chancellor?”