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Originally published Friday, September 28, 2012 at 2:04 AM

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Ex-finance minister to challenge Merkel in 2013

Germany's main opposition party appears set to choose former Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck, who helped pilot the country through the 2008-9 financial crisis, as Chancellor Angela Merkel's challenger in next year's election.

The Associated Press

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BERLIN —

Germany's main opposition party appears set to choose former Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck, who helped pilot the country through the 2008-9 financial crisis, as Chancellor Angela Merkel's challenger in next year's election.

Several German media outlets reported the center-left Social Democrats have decided to nominate the 65-year-old Steinbrueck. Party officials wouldn't immediately comment Friday but former Cabinet colleague Brigitte Zypries wrote on Facebook: "it's true, it's going to be him."

Two other potential candidates have been in play: ex-Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and party chairman Sigmar Gabriel.

The party faces an uphill struggle to unseat Merkel though Steinbrueck is considered relatively well-placed to attract swing voters.

This week, Steinbrueck presented a plan for "taming financial markets" - expected to be a prominent issue in the party's campaign.

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