BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel is to face her center-left rival in the only live televised debate of the campaign for Germany's Sept. 22 parliamentary election — with the challenger needing a good performance against the popular incumbent.
Recent surveys have given Merkel's conservative bloc a large lead over challenger Peer Steinbrueck's Social Democrats and suggested that her current center-right coalition can hope to win re-election. They've also given her a big advantage in personal popularity.
So far, Merkel's center-left opponents have struggled to land any blows on her and she has largely ignored her challenger. But Sunday night's 90-minute duel, broadcast live on several national channels, offers voters a chance to compare the candidates.
Merkel has benefited from a healthy economy and perceptions that she's managed Europe's debt crisis well.