Angela Merkel simply smiles away attacks from Martin Schulz
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) on Sunday during the recording of the ZDF summer interview in Berlin.
Photo: Jorg Carstensen / dpa
SPD leader Martin Schulz switches to attack mode. Chancellor Merkel is "enraptured and aloof". Can it turn the trend?
Berlin. The thing with the microphone does not seem to fit Martin Schulz – he, who likes to gesticulate, would rather have both hands free. But because it’s quite windy on the Freitreppe on the Spree on this Sunday afternoon, the small microphone on the lapel of the SPD candidate for chancellor isn’t enough, and Schulz gets a larger device in his hand during the ARD "summer interview". He looks like a local reporter, Schulz grumbles – but it’s no use. The technology..
Things are not going well overall for Schulz. In the polls, he and his SPD are miles behind Chancellor Angela Merkel and the CDU/CSU. Now, four weeks before the election, Schulz is in a sense attacking his opponent – in a "long-distance duel". Schulz sits with the ARD, a little later Merkel will be a few steps away at the ZDF for her part to answer questions. It’s something like a warm-up for the big TV duel next Sunday. Recorded in the afternoon, broadcast in the early evening.
Schulz had never attacked his opponent so sharply before
Merkel is "aloof" and "enraptured," Schulz says on ARD television. He is referring to reports that the CDU leader was improperly using aircraft belonging to the Federal Police or the Bundeswehr to get to campaign appearances. "This is a kind of aloofness, it is mobilizing for my voters in the election campaign," Schulz believes. Schulz has not yet tackled the Chancellor so sharply and directly.
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Schulz also goes on the offensive on the diesel affair, accusing Merkel of having "no plan on this issue.". Initially, the chancellor had set a target of one million electric vehicles, and then backed off again. Then she had "announced the end of the internal combustion engine, now she has fallen over again". The chancellor prevents besides the possibility of creating by law the possibility to class actions. Schulz: "The Chancellor’s Office is blocking the rights that citizens could have vis-à-vis corporations."
Merkel slips into the role of the feel-good chancellor
It sounds again desperate attempt of the SPD leader to turn the trend against his party and its top man, which has been going on for weeks, in his favor. But how do you attack an opponent who offers virtually no surface for attack?? And how does Merkel react to Schulz’s attacks??
In any case, the Chancellor does not have microphone problems because she is allowed to sit in the covered atrium of ZDF, where there is not a breath of air. And she slips right back into the role of the feel-good chancellor. With a "mixture of experience and the will to shape" she strives for another term in office. And: "Cohesion, prosperity and security are the most important things for me."
Merkel is more relaxed than Schulz
ZDF interviewer Bettina Schausten doesn’t make it too difficult for the head of government. "Were you too friendly with the automotive industry?", she asks, for example, on the subject of diesel. Merkel says she doesn’t want driving bans and refers to the next diesel summit with the municipalities in the next few days. There will be working groups, and one step at a time must be taken. Merkel as she lives and breathes. And the car industry? Yes, that’s where "trust was lost," Merkel says. But: "The diesel will be around for many, many years to come, just like the internal combustion engine." It would be wrong to set a phase-out date now.
Merkel is noticeably more relaxed overall than Schulz. She smiles and shrugs off his accusation of aloofness: She has taken an oath to serve the good of the German people. And otherwise, yes, the voters would decide. That’s all. She also rejects the accusation about class action lawsuits in one sentence: The proposals from the Ministry of Justice are "not yet sufficient," they need to be improved, and then we can talk about it.
And apart from that: "I’m looking forward to the TV duel with Martin Schulz," Merkel says. Whether the SPD leader is also pleased?