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Germany

Merkel Accused of Being a Copycat

Angela Merkel, a conservative chancellor candidate in the upcoming German elections, was accused on Tuesday of copying her closing statement in a TV debate from former US President Ronald Reagan. Merkel's short speech at the end of her head-to-head duel with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder on Tuesday bore a striking resemblance to Reagan's statement at the end of his debate with then President Jimmy Carter in Oct. 1980. Schröder's Social Democratic Party (SDP) told the online version of Der Spiegel magazine that Merkel's speechwriters had copied the statement because they were convinced that it had helped swing the election in Reagan's favor. Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, who have a clear lead in the polls ahead of the Sept. 18 election, acknowledged that she may have borrowed something from Reagan's plea to voters. "She probably drew inspiration from it," said CDU spokesman Matthias Barner. In the debate in Cleveland, Ohio, 25 years ago, Reagan encouraged his prospective voters to ask themselves a set of questions before going to the polls: "Are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? And if you answer all of those questions yes, why then, I think your choice is very obvious as to whom you will vote for. If you don't agree…then I could suggest another choice that you have." Angela Merkel, in her closing statement, asked her potential voters to engage in a strikingly similar kind of electoral soul-searching: "Is our country better off than seven years ago (when Schroeder came to power)... Is growth higher? Is unemployment lower? Do we have less bureaucracy. Are our pensions and health care better? If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then I think you have probably already decided who you will vote for. But if you have any doubt, if you do not want things to carry on as they are, then you have a choice." Most observers believed Merkel had given a better performance than expected in the debate and that the more assured Schroeder failed to make enough impact to swing the election back in his favor.

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