• AFP-JIJI

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The two candidates running neck-and-neck to replace Angela Merkel as German chancellor called for a stronger European Union on Thursday in a final TV debate that did little to shake up a race expected to end in lengthy coalition negotiations.

With days to go before the general election on Sunday that will see Merkel step aside after 16 years in power, her conservative CDU-CSU alliance is playing catch-up with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) in the polls, narrowing the gap to just 2%.

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