Two weeks ahead of a general election, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her main rival Frank-Walter Steinmeier are preparing to do battle this evening in a live TV debate.
Opinion polls suggest Steinmeier’s SPD party are heading for a historic hammering at the ballot box.
Some observers say he needs to do more to get his message across.
“He should say in a clearer way what he would do differently to the CDU and what he would do differently to the ‘Grand Coalition,’‘ said German political expert Peter Radunski.
Offering an alternative, however, has arguably proved difficult for Steinmeier, having served in Merkel’s ‘Grand Coalition’. His opponent is also being credited for being much more media savvy.
“Merkel has worked hard. I think that four or five years ago, it was more difficult for her. Compared to Schroeder, she was better than expected, but, as the public opinion shows, not as good as he was. Today I would say, that we can call Merkel the “Media-Chancellor,’‘ Radunski said.
Merkel remains the preferred choice among Germans to keep the Chancellor’s hot seat. Her conservative CDU currently holds an 11 to 14 point advantage over the SPD in the polls.
Many predict Steinmeier will need a political miracle if he is to turn things round. However some observers believe he could erode Merkel’s lead if he holds his own in tonight’s TV clash.