Published: Wed, February 14, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

German SPD leader Schulz quits in bid to end turbulence over coalition

German SPD leader Schulz quits in bid to end turbulence over coalition

Martin Schulz said last week he would quit as leader so the party could reinvent itself, and urged members to back parliamentary floor leader Andrea Nahles as his successor.

Nahles still needs to be formally nominated by the party executive, which is meeting on Tuesday evening. However, SPD members have to vote on the change on 22 April.

Last Monday, the SPD reached an agreement with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Conservatives Union to form a grand cabinet in formal government coalition negotiations, a move likely to end the longest ever new government vacuum after the September 24 federal elections.

Meanwhile, according to a survey, around two-thirds of Germans do not consider the SPD fit for national government, less than two weeks before the party is set to vote on a new coalition deal with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, as reported by the dpa.

The SPD's 460,000 members will have the final say on the whole agreement in a postal vote, the result of which will be announced on 2 March.

"The SPD can build on it if the membership of the party gives us the mandate to enter government", he said. He told German news agency, "Die Welt", that "there no statutory basis exists in the SPD's rules that allows for the appointment of a new party leader".

"If I can contribute to that by resigning, it will have been worth it", he said outside the SPD headquarters.

Nahles, a plain-speaking 47-year-old former labour minister with a left-wing slant and strong oratory skills, is the frontrunner and would become the first female leader in the party's 154-year history. If members reject the coalition pact, a new German election looks the most likely option.

Mr Schulz also faced anger from across the SPD after taking the foreign ministry job, having previously insisted he would never to serve in a government led by Mrs Merkel.

Michael Fuchs, a former member of parliament with Merkel's Christian Democratic Party (CDU), said he is optimistic that Germany's finances will continue to be run efficiently.

An INSA poll published on Tuesday showed the SPD at a record low of 16.5 percent, only 1.5 percentage points ahead of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Nahles, a former leader of the SPD's youth wing, should work for "a new social idea" rather than invest in an alliance with dwindling support, added Loetzsch, who is serving her fifth term in the Bundestag.

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