Steady, Go!

JAN BAUER/AP(top); JOCKEL FINCK/AP

QUANDARY: Polls put the CDU/CSU alliance — run by Stoiber, bottom — in the lead but Schröer, top, is the preferred Chancellor

It was billed as Germany's first-ever political duel — a face-to-face, bare-knuckles debate between candidates for Chancellor in national elections Sept. 22. But despite their closeness in the polls and with just two months more of campaigning, the confrontation last week between Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and his conservative rival, Bavarian premier Edmund Stoiber, seemed more a polite dialogue than a political punch-up. "Herr Schröder promises a lot but delivers little," complained Stoiber. "I consider [Stoiber] wrong for the economic, political and social development of Germany," retorted Schröder.

The debate, which was held in private at the offices...

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