Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and the challenger for her job, Social Democrat Frank-Walter Steinmeier have gone head-to-head in a live televised debate just two weeks before the country’s general election.
Viewers watched as the coalition partners fielded questions from journalists.
With opinion polls suggesting the SPD are headed for a major defeat – the TV tussle was billed as a make or break chance for Steinmeier to create an impact.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “We have achieved a lot, quite a bit of it since the crisis and we may only have done so because there was a grand coalition.
“But we haven’t managed everything, we fell short of what we could do in a number of areas because the CDU didn’t go along with it. For example, on minimum wages and limiting executive pay.”
But Merkel was having none of it – refusing to be drawn on a salary cap for bosses she also claimed the coalition with Steinmeier had had its day.
“I think we could make more progress on jobs which is why I’m appealing for a new government together with the Liberals.
“The past has been good and you won’t change my mind about the fact that we have got a lot done. But I think for a democracy it’s good when grand coalitions don’t become the norm,” said Merkel.
Other issues included nuclear energy and Afghanistan. But while Merkel holds an 11 to 14 point opinion poll lead, the TV debate may not have changed anything.