Nein danke! Merkel spurns challenger's TV duel re-run offer

PUBLISHED ON THU, SEP 14, 2017 1:20 PM

Nein danke! Merkel spurns challenger's TV duel re-run offer

By Paul Carrel

 

tag-reuters.jpg

FILE PHOTO: A screen that shows the TV debate between German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and her challenger Germany's Social Democratic Party SPD candidate for chancellor Martin Schulz in Berlin, Germany, September 3, 2017. Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland (MG RTL D)/Handout via REUTERS

 

BERLIN (Reuters) - Firmly on course for re-election, Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday spurned her rival's request for a re-run of a head-to-head television debate in which he failed to dent her opinion poll lead.

 

With voting taking place on Sept. 24, Martin Schulz's left-leaning Social Democrats (SPD) trail Merkel's conservatives by around 14 percentage points.

 

Schulz challenged her to a second debate in a letter, arguing that they failed to address many key issues in the first encounter on Sept. 3, billed as a one-off and in which he at times rattled the chancellor.

 

Her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party rejected the idea, with an official saying: "Angela Merkel enjoyed taking part in the a TV duel. The format worked out well. And she is leaving it at that."

 

The SPD's Andrea Nahles, who is Germany's labour minister, accused the conservatives of cowardice for not allowing a second debate to tackle issues like health, education and pensions that she said were barely touched on in the Sept. 3 duel.

 

"In my view, this is weak of Mrs Merkel," she told Reuters in a television interview.

 

Schulz, 61, is a more natural public speaker than Merkel, 63, but he failed to land a knock-out blow during the debate -- partly because the two camps agree on many policy areas.

 

When he did try to stake out stronger positions, such as by accusing U.S. President Donald Trump of "bringing the world to the brink of crisis with his tweets", she was able to appear more considered.

 

Deploying her credentials as a global stateswoman, Merkel said she would work with Trump to achieve a diplomatic solution to the North Korea crisis -- a moderate approach that appealed to risk-averse German voters.

 

A survey by Infratest Dimap for ARD television after the debate showed Merkel's overall performance was viewed as more convincing by 55 percent, compared to 35 percent for Schulz.

 

In his letter to Merkel, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, Schulz argued they had not addressed voters' questions about the digital economy, the future of the labour market, pensions and education in the debate.

 

Schulz, whose SPD has ruled as junior partner in a 'grand coalition' with Merkel's conservatives for the last four years, has tried to appeal to voters with a campaign for social justice but the message has not resonated widely.

 

Merkel, in power since 2005, has told voters not to risk allowing an untested, SPD-led left-wing alliance to take power, urging them to stick with her in "turbulent times".

 

(Writing by Paul Carrel; editing by John Stonestreet)

 
reuters_logo.jpg
-- © Copyright Reuters 2017-09-14
latest news from World

Myanmar, Bangladesh ink Rohingya return deal amid concern over army's roleBy Thu Thu Aung and Yimou Lee  NAYPYITAW (Reuters) - Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an accord on Thursday over terms for the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh, a government...

READ MORE...

No joke - China government warns northern cities to get serious in war on smog A man wearing a face mask rides a bicycle on a bridge in front of the financial district of Pudong covered in smog during a polluted day in Shanghai, China November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song BEIJING (Reuters) - Some...

READ MORE...

Papua New Guinea police order protesting asylum seekers out of Australian-run campBy Tom Westbrook and Jonathan Barrett Men occupy the closed Manus Island immigration detention centre in Papua New Guinea, November 23, 2017. Abdul Aziz/Handout via REUTERS SYDNEY (Reuters) - Papua New Guinea police...

READ MORE...

Australia urges strong, sustained U.S. engagement in Asia, warns on ChinaBy Swati Pandey U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago state in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/Files SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia called on Thursday on...

READ MORE...
sponsors