Schroeder, in power for the last seven years, told supporters in Berlin last night that his center-left party is the best choice to lead to economic revival without hurting social solidarity.
"We started and only we were able to do it," Schroeder said. "We said that renewal was taking place in order to re-boot the economy but without giving up the social component. This will never happen with the Social Democrats. Above all, we will resist a rift in society, decisively so."
At a competing rally, Merkel said Schroeder's leadership had led to a net loss of jobs and that her Christian Union alliance deserves a chance in power to try to reenergize the stagnant economy.