Merkel ‘wins’ TV debate
One of the four moderators interjected: “I think we all seem to be agreeing here.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz (pictured) found plenty of agreement ahead of the September 24 election and the SPD leader missed his big chance to prove that he is the face of change for Germany.
An impressive 55 per cent of those polled for ARD television found Merkel convincing against 35 per cent for Schulz.
Merkel unexpectedly promised to try to end Turkey’s EU accession talks in the live debate, amid escalating tensions with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Schulz first said he would break off the talks if he won the election.
Twelve German citizens are currently under arrest in Turkey in Erdogan’s attack on regime critics and journalists that has resulted in the dismantling of the formally secular state’s democratic traditions.
“The fact is clear that Turkey should not become an EU member,” said Merkel, adding that she would talk to other EU leaders about “a joint position . . . so that we can end these accession talks”.
She has not been so open on the issue in the past.
An eye-catching poll recently suggested that more than 80 per cent of Germans were content economically, suggesting why Germany’s centre-ground, establishment parties remain strong.
And Schulz appears to have failed to capitalise on the campaign’s only television debate involving Merkel or to revive his dwindling chances of defeating the chancellor as she eyes a fourth term.
“Martin Schulz performed well,” said Frank Brettschneider, communications analyst at Hohenheim University. “But he could not upset Angela Merkel and put her decisively under pressure.”
Focusing on a recent statement where Merkel said she would do the same again as she did two years ago, Schulz said: “Merkel said she would do the same as in 2015: I would not agree at all . . . We need a European solution to the problem, and we lost this [with Merkel’s refugee policy].”
Merkel replied that she had implemented the first article of the German constitution which upholds human rights.
She was asked if she regretted the decision to allow more than 1 million migrants into the country.
“No,” the chancellor said. “I have made difficult decisions, on the eurozone, on refugees, people.
“There are moments in the life of a chancellor where you have to make a decision,” she said, conceding that “not everybody can come to us . . . we learnt this in the last few years”.
Martin Schulz failed to land a punch. Picture credit: Wikimedia