Merkel 'out of touch', says challenger as vote nears

Merkel 'out of touch', says challenger as vote nears

Merkel 'out of touch', says challenger as vote nears

More than a million migrants have arrived in Germany over the past two years since Mrs. Merkel suspended European Union border rules and said her nation would take "no upper limit" of new arrivals.

The Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader said Merkel had tried to dictate terms for their sole televised debate next week, and accused her of abusing the perks of office by flying to campaign events "at a bargain price".

Despite a political backlash, Mrs Merkel opened Germany's borders to people from across the world, allowing more than a million into the country.

"We are in much better shape than we were just a few years ago", Merkel said.

Merkel and Macron said they were concerned that the security situation in eastern Ukraine had not significantly improved since they held a four-way telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko in the so-called Normandy format on August 22.

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"I would take all the important decisions of 2015 the same way again", she told Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper, saying they had been necessary to "avert a humanitarian catastrophe".

"There are many issues where people have the feeling that Merkel is out of touch", Schulz said in an interview on public broadcaster ARD.

He said Merkel had done too little to make other European Union states take in asylum seekers from Greece and Italy, but his main foreign policy gripe was her handling of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In an interview yesterday, discussing her response to the refugee crisis, the Chancellor said she would do everything "the same way again" if she had the opportunity.

As she battles for re-election, Mrs Merkel has been subjected to ridicule and protest over her laissez-faire stance on migration.

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"That contradicts the spirit of Europe".

Signalling she is ready to press ahead with deeper European integration, Merkel said she did not rule out a French idea to have a common euro zone finance minister.

"That some countries refuse to accept any refugees is not on".

In Saturday's speech Merkel made it clear that refugees were welcome in Germany even though she conceded there could not be a repeat of the influx.

Both Schulz and Merkel announced plans to improve federal investment in infrastructure for schools, which is ordinarily a state issue but has become a hot campaign topic.

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