Merkel Rivals Plead For Stronger Europe In Final Election Debate
Faizan Hashmi 1 month ago Fri 24th September 2021 | 09:20 AM
Frankfurt, Sept 24 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 24th Sep, 2021 ) :The two candidates running neck-and-neck to replace Angela Merkel as German chancellor called for a stronger European Union on Thursday, in a final tv debate that did little to shake up a race expected to end in lengthy coalition negotiations.
With days to go before the general election on Sunday that will see Merkel step aside after 16 years in power, her conservative CDU-CSU alliance is playing catch-up with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) in the polls, narrowing the gap to just two percent.
Foreign policy has featured little during the tight campaign, but in their final joint TV appearance, the two main contenders for Merkel's job -- Finance Minister and Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz from the SPD and Armin Laschet from Merkel's conservative bloc each called for a strong, sovereign Europe.
"We need more Europe, we need to speak with one voice," said Laschet, who is also the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia state.
Annalena Baerbock, the Green party's candidate for chancellor, called for a joint EU policy on China "so we're not played off against each other", advocating a combination of "dialogue" and "toughness" with Beijing.
On domestic issues, the candidates repeated their usual talking points, likely doing little to sway undecided voters and leaving media commentators exasperated.
"Desperately seeking a winner!" the top-selling Bild wrote.
- 'Climate crisis' - Latest opinion polls put Scholz's SPD in front at 25 percent, followed by the CDU-CSU at 23 percent, within the margin of error.
The Greens are in third place at around 16 percent support, giving them a realistic chance of becoming a junior coalition partner in the next government.
If the surveys prove right, Merkel's conservatives are headed for their worst score in post-war German history, potentially tarnishing Merkel's own legacy.
Their pick for chancellor, the affable but gaffe-prone Laschet, 60, saw his popularity decline after he was caught chuckling during a tribute to victims of deadly floods in July.
Baerbock, 40, has warned that the next government "will be the last that can still actively influence the climate crisis".