Unlike the United States, which has three presidential debates, a vice-presidential debate and (what feels like) several thousand primary debates, Germany is treated to just one televised debate between the major parties and one televised debate between the minor parties. On Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel of the center-right CDU and her challenger, Peer Steinbrück of the center-left SPD, were given their chance to shine on national television.
Reports indicate no major fireworks. This isn't a surprise. The Economist predicted that Ms. Merkel would talk "soothingly without saying anything" -- a rather familiar approach for the famously cautious politician. The AP reported, "neither contender scored a knockout blow or made a major mistake, and polls conducted by broadcasters showed no clear winner."
This is to Ms. Merkel's benefit and Mr. Steinbrück's detriment. Ms. Merkel maintains a 16-point lead over her challenger, so Mr. Steinbrück needed to shake up the race. But that most likely didn't happen.
Still, though the CDU will likely win the most votes, Ms. Merkel isn't guaranteed to return as Chancellor. Her current governing coalition, which includes the center-right FDP, is in trouble since the FDP may not receive enough votes to cross the 5 percent threshold to enter the Bundestag.
The speculation will be over soon. The election is on Sunday, Sept. 22.