World Bulletin / News Desk
Former German finance minister Peer Steinbrueck will lead the Social Democrats into the 2013 federal election against Angela Merkel, in what will be a polarised campaign because of his tough talk on banks and aversion to forming a coalition with her.
The combative Steinbrueck wants to impose new restrictions on the financial sector and rules out serving in another "grand coalition" cabinet under the conservative chancellor.
Sources in the centre-left SPD, which had been refusing to name its candidate until early next year, said party chairman Sigmar Gabriel would speak with other SPD leaders later in the day about nominating 65-year-old Steinbrueck.
Known for his quick wit and abrasive style, he led Germany's response to the banking crisis as minister in Merkel's previous "grand coalition" government with the SPD from 2005-2009.
The path was cleared for Steinbrueck's candidacy after two other SPD contenders, Gabriel and former foreign minister Frank-Walker Steinmeier, stepped aside.
Steinbrueck is likely to mount much sharper attacks on Merkel than the more diplomatic Steinmeier and could also siphon away votes from her Christian Democrats (CDU) because of his centrist economic views and reputation as a safe pair of hands.
"Steinbrueck is definitely the most dangerous candidate because he appeals to the voters in the middle," said political scientist Gero Neugebauer at Berlin's Free University.
But a poll by Politbarometer released on Friday showed much higher personal support for Merkel. The 58-year-old chancellor, whose reputation has been much enhanced by the euro crisis, had a 53 percent approval rating versus Steinbrueck's 36 percent.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Eylül 2012, 13:41