Monday, 2 September 2013

Angela Merkel's Rival Accuses Her of 'Deadly Austerity' in TV Debate

THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: German chancellor Angela Merkel and her opposition challenger have clashed over her strategy for handling the euro-zone crisis in a TV debate – as he accused her of prescribing a “deadly dose” of austerity.

Social Democrat candidate Peer Steinbrück said the government’s crisis strategy had failed: “what is lacking is a rebuilding program, what is lacking is a growth impulse.”

Mrs Merkel defended her record, pointing out that Germany had escaped high unemployment and was “the motor of growth, the anchor of stability” in Europe.

Polls give the Chancellor’s Christian Democrats a wide lead over the main opposition ahead of elections on September 22.

So far, she has ignored her challenger – declining to mention his name on the campaign trail - while he has struggled to define a distinctive programme. Mrs Merkel candidly admits to stealing attractive opposition policies such as controls on rises in private rents.

Mrs Merkel's finance minister admitted last month that there would have to be a third aid programme for Greece after the current one ends in 2014.

In recent months, Berlin softened its demands for fiscal rigour in the eurozone, making plain that it is willing to allow more time to cut deficits in exchange for economic reforms.

Mr Steinbrück put social justice at the heart of his pitch for office, pointing out that Germany has one of the largest low wage sectors in Europe, with over 7m people earning less than his party’s proposed €8.50 per hour minimum wage. » | Jeevan Vasagar, Berlin | Sunday, September 01, 2013