Only three weeks before the biggest economy in Europe goes to the polls, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Social Democrat rival Peer Steinbrück held on Sunday the only TV debate of the campaign, which according to analysts, produced no real winner.
Watched by over 15 million viewers, both candidates clashed over tax policies, the euro crisis and the US spying scandal.
But far behind on the polls, the social-democrat launched a fierce attack on Merkel, calling her euro policies a ‘failure’. He accused the Chancellor of crashing southern European countries with tough austerity measures.
‘The decisive point is that with the announcement of a third package for Greece we maybe need to admit that the crisis strategy until now, which has mainly been presented by this government, has failed because it only brings these countries into a downwards vicious cycle. What’s missing is a structural programme, an impulse for growth an especially the fight against youth unemployment, although Miss Merkel also agreed to a youth guarantee in February this year in the European Council. The question is, what happened with this?’, said SPD candidate Peer Steinbrück.
Referring to Germany as ‘the motor of growth’ in Europe, Merkel defended her euro strategy pointing at how well Germany has performed during the euro crisis. She said she wants to defend the interests of German taxpayers when helping other indebted countries.
‘We can simply tell the people in this country that we can achieve further progress. The work is of course not over yet, of course there are many worries, many woes, but we have shown that we can do it, and that in a difficult time, in a time in which we have had the worst European crisis, Germany is strong, Germany is a growth motor, Germany is an anchor for stability and I want to continue on this path and what we have shown really convinces people’, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Some snap polls conducted straight after the debate gave the socialdemocrat the victory. Others suggested, however, that Merkel had been more convincing.
But with a 16 point lead over Steinbrück, it is highly likely that Merkel will have a third term in office.