Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Challenger Fails To Take Down Merkel In Only Debate Before Election

German FM wants US nukes removed from territory Merkel Backs Mattis Against Trump in Call for North Korea Talks
Andrew Cummings | 04 September, 2017, 13:10

Broadcast live on four German TV channels, the showdown billed as Das Duell was mostly a very polite debate - inevitably, since Schulz's Social Democrats (SPD) have propped up Merkel's conservatives in a "grand coalition" government since 2013.

Merkel called for cooperation with Turkey, Libya, Niger and other countries in solving refugee and immigration issues, and in the meantime opening channels for legal immigration.

Three weeks before elections, Chancellor Angela Merkel will Monday face the toxic "dieselgate" scandal which pits the interests of Germany's powerful auto sector against public health fears over air pollution.

In a pivot from her previous position, the centre-right leader declared on Sunday: "The fact is clear that Turkey should not become a member of the European Union".

The plunge in relations began after Berlin sharply criticised Ankara over the crackdown that followed last year's failed coup attempt.

The debate was considered the last chance for Schulz to turn the race around after falling far behind in polls.

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Polls published after the televised debate put the chancellor ahead in the crucial clash.

Sunday's debate came as Merkel entered the homestretch of a race that she and her center-right Christian Democratic Union have comfortably led for months. However, according to the quick poll by Infratest dimap after the debate, about 55 per cent respondents believed that Merkel was more convincing, against 35 per cent of that of Schulz.

In Germany, the debate format is different.

On the hot-button topic of migration, he accused Merkel of failing to coordinate plans with European Union neighbours when she made a decision to open Germany's borders in 2015 to allow in refugees, many from war-torn Syria and Iraq.

Recounting the situation when hundreds of thousands of refugees were blocked at the Hungarian border, she said she "had no hope that (Hungarian prime minister) Viktor Orban would change his mind" over his tough stance against refugees. "And still I will make every effort to persuade as many people as possible that this was the right thing to do and that we should continue on this path together".

But after the moderators had moved on and asked the two candidates a question about US President Donald Trump, Merkel returned to the Turkey issue, suddenly throwing her weight behind an end to the membership talks.

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