German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her center-left rival, Martin Schulz, locked horns over how to deal with Turkey in their only televised debate Sunday, three weeks before the country's general election.
On the other hand, viewers said Schulz's arguments sounded more aggressive and closer to the people.
Merkel's strong stance against Turkey appeared to steal the show from Schulz, who had minutes earlier called for an end to the European Union membership talks.
Merkel's CDU party and their Bavarian CSU allies are commanding a strong 17-percentage point lead over the SPD ahead of the September 24 polls.
Her Christian Democratic Union party has backed the move for years, but Ms Merkel said since Turkey's accession talks began before her premiership, she would respect them.
"The chancellor and the president are in agreement that North Korea has trampled on global law and that the worldwide community must therefore react with determination against this new escalation", Merkel's office said in a statement after she spoke on the phone with Macron.
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"I don't think that one can solve this conflict without the American President", she said. More than half of viewers, 55 percent, named Merkel the victor, according to an ARD poll.
Given a minute for a closing speech at the end of the debate, Merkel turned back to her now-infamous slogan "we'll manage this" that had marked the refugee crisis.
Merkel has been chancellor since 2005 and is widely seen as Europe's most influential politician.
Most of the respondents of the first survey released at the end of the debate, agreed that although Schulz performed better than expected, Merkel still won in terms of her credibility, sympathy, arguments and competence.
Schulz, a former European Parliament president with no national government experience in Germany, looked directly into the camera when making his closing remarks and appealed to voters to show the courage to choose change.