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Germany: Ex-finance minister Peer Steinbrueck enters race in major challenge to Merkel

In a surprise move, Germany's opposition backs a fast-talking former finance minister.

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You ready for this, Merkel? Here, Peer Steinbrueck, a former finance minister reportedly chosen by the opposition Social Democrats to run in Germany's upcoming election, presents his proposal for financial reform in Europe on September 26, 2012. (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

BERLIN, Germany -- Former finance minister Peer Steinbrueck, known for his skillful political banter, has reportedly been chosen by the opposition Social Democrats in a move likely to make the upcoming German election "a lot more interesting," according to Reuters

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Steinbrueck would pose a serious challenge to Chancellor Angela Merkel's bid for re-election, according to analysts cited by Reuters

The Germany daily Bild, citing party sources, said the center-left Social Democrats picked Steinbrueck over rivals Sigmar Gabriel and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, according to Agence-France Press. His nomination is expected to be formally announced on Monday. 

The 65-year-old would be running against his former boss: Steinbrueck served as Merkel's finance minister from 2005-2009, said Reuters

Current surveys show Merkel's conservatives ahead of the Social Democrats, positioning her well for a third term in office.

The election, set for next September or October, is expected to be dominated by debate over Germany's role in resolving the euro crisis, with Germans divided over Merkel's handling of the crisis. 

Reuters further speculated that as a moderate, Steinbrueck may be able to draw critical support from other opposition parties, such the Free Democrats, as well as the ruling Christian Democrats. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/germany/120928/germany-ex-finance-minister-peer-steinbrueck-enters-race