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For the first time during the campaign, the leaders of all main parties contesting the German federal election will be on a stage this evening for the final debate before Sunday's vote.

  • The debate is due to begin at around 2015CET (1415ET, 1915BST), and will be broadcast on public channells ARD and ZDF.
  • All previous debates have either included just the three candidates running for chancellor (Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, Christian Democrat Armin Laschet, and Green Annelena Baerbock), or leaders/co-leaders of the smaller parties (Free Democrat Christian Lindner, Die Linke's Dietmar Bartsch/Janine Wissler, the Alternative for Germany's Alice Wiedel, and a representative from the Christian Social Union).
    • This time, though, all party leaders will be on stage, with Bavarian Minister-President Markus Soder representing the Christian Social Union. Having Soder on stage could prove a boon or a hindrance to the Christian Democratic Union's Laschet. The CSU runs alongside the CDU in the election so having Soder on stage will provide Laschet with a vocal supporter during the debate.
    • However, before Laschet was selected as CDU/CSU chancellor candidate, Soder had much higher approval ratings than Laschet and he remains a more popular politician nationally despite being solely a Bavarian politician. Having Soder on the stage could provide German voters with an image of 'what could have been', reflecting poorly on Laschet's candidacy.
  • With the final polls being released by polling outlets, the SPD retains around a 4% lead over the CDU in most surveys, with the Greens in a distant third place.