Merkel faces challenger in German election debate

Associated Press
A man on a bicycle passes election posters, showing the two top candidates for next German chancellor at a street in Duisburg, western Germany, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Peer Steinbrueck of the Social Democratic Party, SPD, left, will challenge German chancellor Angela Merkel of the governing Christian Social Democrats, CDU, right. Germans will vote on Sept. 22, 2013. Slogan on the SPD poster reads "you have it in your hand" and on the CDU poster "Germany is strong. And should stay that way." (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel has touted her government's economic record as she faces off against her center-left rival in their only live televised debate before Germany's Sept. 22 election.

The conservative incumbent said at the start of Sunday's debate, carried live on several channels, that Germany has more people in work than ever and pointed to her management of Europe's debt crisis. She said: "Germany is the motor of growth, Germany is the anchor of stability and I would like to continue this course."

Challenger Peer Steinbrueck said he wants to ensure greater "social justice," introducing a national minimum wage.

Recent surveys have given Merkel's conservative bloc a large lead over Steinbrueck's Social Democrats and suggested that her current center-right coalition can hope to win re-election.