Obviously, the German debate was of somewhat greater importance than the Swedish one with the election as imminent as it is.
It was also expected that perhaps 70 % of the German electorate would watch this the only direct encounter between Gerhard Schröder and Angela Merkel during the campaign.
It is doubtful whether the debate will change much. There were – as far as I could see – no major policy surprises, mistakes or blunders.
In contrast to the very domestic-oriented Swedish debate, Europe and the world did figure in the German one. Schröder did a statesman-like explanation of the geostrategic importance of integrating Turkey with the rest of the European Union, which made Merkels resistance on this issue look rather pedestrian.
As expected, Schröder turned out to be the more skilled and confident debater, but at the same time the opinion polls indicated that Merkel performed somewhat better than people had been expected.
An important waypoint towards a new government in Germany has been passed.