Germany coalition: SPD's Schulz gives up cabinet role to save deal

Pauline Gross
February 14, 2018

Mr Schulz said he was handing over to a left-winger, Andrea Nahles, with immediate effect.

Nahles still needs to be formally nominated by the party executive, which is meeting on Tuesday evening. They say it is against party rules and one of the current deputies should step in until members can vote on a new leader.

Tuesday's announcement caps off a turbulent week for the former SPD leader, after his party agreed a coalition deal with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian allies the Christian Social Union (CSU) last Wednesday.

Schulz has been plagued with criticism from within the SPD, especially the youth branch of the party who have been vehemently against a coalition deal with Merkel. And members of the SPD could yet reject the coalition deal in a ballot whose results will be announced on 4 March.

The resignation of Schulz is a major blow to the stability of the already fragile grand coalition for Chancellor Angela Merkel, who failed to form a coalition government with the libertarian Free Democrats and the Green Party back in November. That camp eventually won the argument and Hamburg mayor Olaf Scholz was named interim party chief until a special party convention to elect a new leader in April.

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The chairman of the Association of Social Democratic Lawyers in the SPD, Harald Baumann-Hasske, also brought up the legality of appointing a new chair, per the party's charter.

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.

Just 33 percent of German citizens said the SPD would be more successful under Nahles, while 52 percent did not expect this to be the case.

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. Support for Merkel's bloc slumped to 29.5 percent in an INSA poll of 2,608 people taken February 9-12, from the 32.9 percent of the votes it got in the September 24 federal election. The centre-left SPD is on course to run six ministries, including finance and foreign affairs.

The SPD originally wanted to reinvent itself in opposition but reconsidered when Merkel's attempt to form an alliance with two smaller parties failed late previous year.

Other reports by GizPress

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