BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-left challenger in Germany’s Sept. 24 election says he hopes to generate momentum from their single head-to-head televised debate this weekend.

Polls currently give Merkel’s conservative bloc a lead of 13-17 points over challenger Martin Schulz’s Social Democrats. But Schulz told the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland newspaper group in comments published Friday that “a successful duel can create momentum.”

He said that “on Sunday, we have for the first time a direct comparison. Ms. Merkel cannot avoid issues here like she always does otherwise.”

Germany has held televised debates between the two candidates for chancellor since 2002. So far, candidates have landed few major blows on their opponents in the encounters.

Schulz argued that almost half of German voters haven’t yet decided whether they will vote and who for.

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