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“Stabilizing the euro is not just a good thing for Europe, it is in the elementary interests of Germany,” Mrs. Merkel said Saturday. “It secures jobs and it secures our prosperity.”

She said that her course of helping Europe’s strugglers in exchange for budget discipline and reforms “must be continued.”

A euro breakup “would set European unification back 20 to 30 years” and ruin German businesses, said Mr. Steinbrueck, whose party backed Mrs. Merkel‘s eurozone policies in Parliament but criticized her for over-emphasizing austerity.

Germany’s government, he said, has “a clear European responsibility to hold this continent together.”

An opinion poll published Sunday by the weekly Bild am Sonntag put support for MRs. Merkel’s conservatives at 39 percent. Her allies the Free Democrats were at 6 percent.

Mr. Steinbrueck’s Social Democrats would receive 26 percent of the vote, according to the poll. The Greens and the Left Party each came in at 9 percent.

The survey of 2,047 voters was conducted by the Emnid research institute on Sept. 15-20.