Candidates for Germany’s next chancellor who will compete in general elections on Sept. 26 faced off Sunday in a live televised debate.
They included Armin Laschet, the head of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU); Olaf Scholz, the Social Democrat (SPD) party candidate and the country’s finance minister; and Annalena Baerbock, the Green Party candidate and party co-chair.
The candidates answered questions on current developments and future goals moderated by Maybrit Illner and Oliver Kohr.
Asked about possible coalitions, Laschet said he would definitely not hold coalition talks with the Left Party and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party.
“Democratic parties should talk among themselves. We are fighting to be the first party,” he said.
Baerbock emphasized that they have a lot in common with the SPD, especially in the social field. She said they will hold coalition talks with all democratic parties and that they have conflicts with the Left Party on issues such as foreign policy and internal security.
Scholz said the people will decide how the election will turn out and that he is working to give the SPD a strong mandate.
"Whoever wants to rule Germany must have clear positions. She/he must be in favor of transatlantic cooperation. She/he must say that NATO is indispensable for our security, and she/he must be in favor of a strong European Union,” he said.
Laschet said the biggest threat to democracy comes from the extreme right. Underlining that he is struggling with the extreme right-wing and racists, he said he drew boundaries against the extreme right. Baerbock also emphasized that her priority will be the fight against racism.
All three candidates agreed that digitalization is an urgent issue for the new government to address.
After 16 years in power, Chancellor Angela Merkel is quitting active politics this year, and her conservative CDU/CSU bloc picked Laschet, a pragmatic moderate politician, to lead them into the election.
*Writing by Gozde BayarAnadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.