04 September, 2017
Her overall performance was viewed as more convincing by 55%, compared to 35% for Mr Schulz, in a survey by Infratest Dimap for ARD television.
She said she will discuss with European Union counterparts to see if "we can end these membership talks", adding that "I don't see (Turkey) ever joining and I had never believed that it would happen". "And still I will make every effort to persuade as many people as possible that this was the right thing to do and that we should continue on this path together".
Schulz, who had previously complained that Merkel was lulling voters to sleep with her refusal to engage in combative debate, went on the offensive quickly.
Merkel's CDU party and Bavarian CSU allies hold a 17-percentage point lead over Schulz's SPD ahead of the September 24 national election.
She has weathered storms over mass immigration and financial and political turmoil in the European Union, while the SPD, Germany's oldest party, has struggled to promote a strong rival.
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Much of the debate was taken up with the issue of migrants, with Merkel saying she stood by her decision to allow hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany in 2015 and insisted the country can't isolate itself from the effects of wars and poverty elsewhere in the world.
Merkel responded: "We had a very dramatic situation then.There are times in the life of a chancellor when she has to decide".
Schulz said that he agreed with the policy of granting asylum to those in need and argued that Germany had to meet its global commitments.
But with nearly half the voters still undecided three weeks before the elections, the straight-talking Schulz had been pinning his hopes on the prime-time TV showdown, hoping to sway millions to his cause and halt a devastating popularity slide.
But the green light for membership talks was given months before Merkel became chancellor in 2005 and she has always said that she will respect that decision, referring to the negotiations as "open ended".
But he refused to rule out a coalition with the far-left Linke.