Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Search of Air Algerie crash site continues

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Sarkozy, Hollande and the scooter wars

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Confusion online over Air Algérie flight

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

  • In pictures: Debris and devastation at Air Algérie Flight AH5017 crash scene

    Read more

  • Kerry heads to Paris for new round of Gaza peace talks

    Read more

  • ‘No survivors’ from Algerian plane crash, says Hollande

    Read more

  • Washington Post correspondent and his wife arrested in Iran

    Read more

  • Paris bans new Gaza protest scheduled for Saturday

    Read more

  • Tour de France fans bring the ambience to the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • Halal tourism on the rise

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Lithuania’s Navardauskas wins 19th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

Europe

Merkel and Steinmeier offer tepid TV debate ahead of poll

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-09-14

Chancellor Angela Merkel and rival Frank-Walter Steinmeier engaged in a polite debate on German television on Sunday, exchanging views on minimum wages and nuclear energy, ahead of September 27 elections. Merkel leads comfortably in polls.

AFP - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her rival, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, sparred Sunday on minimum wages and nuclear power in an otherwise tepid TV debate before elections in two weeks' time.
   
The conservative Merkel and Steinmeier, her vice-chancellor and the Social Democrats' candidate, also tried to claim credit for the recent state-brokered rescue of automaker Opel and a drop in joblessness in the last four years.
   
Merkel said she had presided over an economic boom until the crisis hit hard last year and that she could return the country to prosperity if she could link up with her partner of choice, the pro-business Free Democrats.
   
"We can continue decisively on this path but preferably with a new government," she said at their only one-on-one debate of the campaign before the September 27 election.
   
Steinmeier, like Merkel dressed in a black business suit, said any economic recovery must be accompanied by better salaries for German workers.
   
"We are faced with a downward spiral for pay," he said, calling for a national minimum wage like that introduced in other major European economies.
   
"Britain and France introduced them without a loss of jobs."
   
Merkel said she favoured only sector-wide wage agreements, saying a national minimum wage risked being a job killer.
   
The two candidates also stressed their differences on nuclear energy.
   
Merkel's Social Democratic predecessor Gerhard Schroeder agreed to mothball the country's reactors by about 2020.
   
The chancellor said Sunday that the nuclear power plants should stay open as a "bridge technology until renewable, affordable energy makes a transition possible".
   
Steinmeier called nuclear energy dangerous.
   
"That is the wrong way to go," he said of Merkel's plan. "We must maintain the phase-out of nuclear power."
   
Despite occasional jousts, the debate quickly devolved into a tame policy discussion with a polite exchange of differing views.
   
The chancellor and Steinmeier, who is also foreign minister, have worked together in a so-called grand coalition since 2005 and both would like to abandon the loveless marriage and link up with their partners of choice.
   
But Merkel's conservatives are leading in polls by a double-digit margin and look likely to manage to form a ruling coalition with the Free Democrats.
   
The televised debate was seen by many commentators as Steinmeier's last chance to rescue his bid to become chancellor, with 20 million viewers expected to watch.

Date created : 2009-09-13

COMMENT(S)