Germany elections: Merkel leads Schulz in polls

According to media reports, opinion polls suggest Angela Merkel could secure a fourth term

Angela Merkel leads as Martin Schulz fails to make inroads
Angela Merkel leads as Martin Schulz fails to make inroads

Three weeks before elections, Angela Merkel seems to be heading four a fourth win as chancellor of Germany, with former European Parliament president Martin Schulz failing to halt her advance in a crucial televised debate, media report.

Sunday's TV clash had been touted as Schulz's last chance to sway millions to his cause and halt a devastating popularity slide.

But polls following the 90-minute showdown gave Merkel, leader of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) since 2000, a clear edge over Schulz, a former European Parliament chief and leader of the Social Democratic Union Party of Germany (SDP).

"Merkel came out as sure, Schulz was hardly able to land a punch. The candidate is an honourable man. But being honourable alone won't make one chancellor," wrote Heribert Prantl, Sueddeutsche daily commentator.

There will be no further televised debates in the run-up to the election.

With millions of voters still undecided, Schulz had been looking to the debate to erode the commanding 17-percentage point lead of Merkel's CDU party and their Bavarian CSU allies ahead of the September 24 polls.

Schulz accused Merkel of failing to coordinate plans with EU neighbours when she decided to open Germany's borders in 2015 to allow in refugees, many from war-torn Syria and Iraq.

But Merkel launched back: "In the life of a chancellor, there are moments when you have to make a quick decision".

And as Schulz voiced his wish to end EU membership talks with Turkey amid escalating tensions with Ankara, Merkel stole the issue from under his feet as she said she did not "see them ever joining" the bloc.

Together with EU counterparts, she will examine if "we can end these membership talks", Merkel said.

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