Merkel, election rival face off in TV debate
BERLIN (AFP) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel will come face-to-face in a television clash on Sunday with her centre-left election rival, confronting Peer Steinbrueck whom she has studiously ignored on the campaign trail.
In what has been billed as the primetime TV event of the year, Mr Steinbrueck will have a last-ditch chance to close a yawning poll gap against the popular Dr Merkel.
With three weeks to go to election day, the brash, straight-talking but gaffe-prone Social Democrat, who once served as Dr Merkel's finance minister in a 'grand coalition' cabinet, faces an uphill struggle to unseat the unflappable leader of Europe's biggest economy.
A poll Friday gave Dr Merkel's conservatives 41 per cent of the vote - a lead over the combined totals of 26 per cent for the Social Democrats (SPD) and 11 per cent for the SPD's preferred allies the Greens.