BERLIN, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Following are highlights of the only live TV clash between Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and main challenger Peer Steinbrueck ahead of a federal election on Sept. 22.
Steinbrueck, chancellor candidate of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), is trailing badly in opinion polls but analysts say many voters will make up their decision based on the TV debate.
“What we have managed to achieve in these past four years is relatively sensational. We have gone from the worst economic crisis Germany has had in 2009... to the point where we can say in 2015 we will start paying back debt.”
“Tax revenues may be bubbling now but we cannot navigate this ship according simply according to how the economy is doing right now”.
“We have a low pay sector like hardly any other country in Europe. Seven million people who earn less than 8.5 euros per hour and 1.4 million people earn so little that they have to be topped up.”
“We must not do anything to put jobs at risk and the tax hike plans of the Social Democrats and the Greens bring with them the risk that we spoil the good situation that we have instead of improving it.”
”Nobody knows exactly how things will develop in Greece. As chancellor I have the responsibility for ensuring that the reform pressure on Greece does not let up.
”It could be that there will be a new Greek package but nobody knows how big it will be.
“Greece was allowed into the euro without having fulfilled the conditions and the stability and growth pact was suspended - all under the SPD and Greens under my predecessor.”
“I said very early on we were in a union of shared liability.”
”I am convinced it was right. I decided this because circumstances changed completely.
“We agree energy must be payable.. But most people in Germany want us to make this energy switch. And if someone can do it, then Germany can.”
“We now need urgently a law on energy.... straight after the elections.”
“The management of this energy switch is a disaster... It is the biggest brake of investment we have.”
“I will try to avoid a rise in prices.”
“The NSA affair is in no way over.”
“I would have expected German government leader to seek enlightenment.”
“On German soil we have no reason to believe at the moment the NSA is spying on all Germans.”
Asked if Germany would participate in a U.S. military attack on Syria with him as chancellor:
”No, and I would regret very much if US, without a mandate under international law, isolated itself by deciding on a military attack because I believe the situation of the people in Syria would not be improved nor would the violence end. Above all, this would drive apart the community of nations, and the U.N. security council and the whole U.N. would be devalued.
“I have therefore the hope that next week, at the G20 meeting that Mrs Merkel is participating in, at least on the sidelines the most important partners will sit together to talk about how the pressure can be piled onto Syria, beyond a military act.”
”Germany can only participate if there is a NATO mandate or a U.N. mandate or a European mandate.
”We are trying everything to get the U.N. procedure underway. Obviously I will hold many talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit.
”Germany in no way will be involved (in a military attack).
“However there must be a collective response of the U.N. ..to the use of chemicals. This is a huge crime.”
“For four years we have been at a a standstill. And I want to change this.”
“We have had four good years for Germany and I want the next four years to be good as well.”