SPD leader Peer Steinbrueck leader was up against it even on arrival at the television studio for the German election campaign’s only televised debate between the leaders of the two big parties, with young supporters of Chancellor Merkel heckling him as they have done at every single one of his meetings throughout the campaign.
The public perception of their performances seems to be Steinbrueck did better than expected, but Merkel is nearly home and dry.
“It was interesting to see the different opinions but it didn’t really help because there were always evasions. Let’s wait and see if it will get
better in the coming weeks,” said one young woman.
Around 15 million people watched the debate, which one poll marked 49% to 44% in Steinbrueck’s favour, while another gave the two-term chancellor a one-point lead.
“I’ve always said it was Steinbrueck’s last chance. I think he made a few points, but whether that will be enough… I think it was not dramatic enough for him to rise above Merkel and change the tide of opinion,” said one Berlin man.
The latest opinion poll published on Sunday gives Merkel’s CDU-CSU coalition a 16-point advantage over the SPD. It is a gap that appears to guarantee victory.