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The Times: „Schröder is bruised by challenger in TV fight for his title

Frau Merkel’s one vulnerable point was on the role of women: some members of her proposed cabinet have clear ideas about the need for them to stay at home. But that did not alter the fact that Frau Merkel is now poised to become the most powerful German woman since the formidable Brunhilde, who ruled the Germanic tribes in the seventh century.

The Guardian: Schröder has been a disaster, so I’m rooting for Merkel :

The SPD’s central failure has been its inability to provide a coherent social-market-based answer to the problems posed for the nation state by globalisation. There are many reasons behind this failure, some only too understandable. No country in Europe, after all, has had to absorb so many economic, political and cultural shocks as Germany in the aftermath of its 1990 reunification. The rest of Europe still underestimates the scale of this fantastic effort.

Nevertheless, too much of the SPD remains too comfortable with a vision of Germany, and of Europe, that is too heavily defined by the cold war. German social democrats cling to a social and economic model that made great sense – and was economically sustainable – as long as the Berlin Wall existed.

BBC News, „Q&A: German elections„:

What about the personalities?

This election is also about characters. Mrs Merkel has sought to use her reputation for being rather dowdy and uncharismatic to her advantage. It is thought many voters have grown weary of the slick „media chancellor“ and his failure to deliver on his promises. Mrs Merkel may have spruced up her look with brighter colours and a fresh haircut, but she still hopes to come across as the more honest of the two.

For their part, the SPD hope that their telegenic leader can use his charm to claw his way back in the polls – just as he did when trailing in the last election campaign.

German leaders in crunch TV duel

A snap survey indicates Mr Schroeder was judged the winner, but analysts say he failed to deliver a knock-out blow.

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