Wednesday, 23 May, 2018

German SPD leader Schulz resigns

Julia Klockner GETTYJulia Klockner stood by Angela Merkel after last year's disastrous election
Ellis Copeland | 14 February, 2018, 18:59

Amid a swift leadership transition, Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) sank further into chaos on Tuesday after the party agreed to a coalition deal with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.

The failure of Germany's established parties to form a government more than four months after national elections has eroded trust in the country's political system and hurt the SPD, Gesine Loetzsch, a former chairwoman of the post-communist Left, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Berlin on Wednesday.

Deputy party leader of the SPD, Ralf Stegner, has said: "We need a new start".

"With his decision to resign today, (Schulz) paved the way for a new beginning", Nahles said.

Scholz and Nahles thanked Schulz for his leadership of the party. But expectations that she would take over with immediate effect on a caretaker basis until a party conference triggered resistance as it breached party procedure.

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Schulz has been troubled with criticism from within the SPD, especially the youth branch of the party which has been fervently against a coalition deal with Merkel. "But I think the whole situation is not only bad for the SPD, it's a bad situation for all parties because people lose more and more trust in political parties". Instead of leaving it to delegates at the convention, some in the party base are agitating for another full membership vote on the SPD's next leader, a prospect that could lead to further delays and open the door to more challengers for the position.

In a cartoon published on Tuesday, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily showed Nahles with a whip riding an SPD snail.

Mr Schulz, formerly European Parliament President, has said he will not serve as foreign minister. Media have speculated that one option might be Katarina Barley, a former SPD general secretary and family minister, or SPD veteran Thomas Oppermann.

Germany has been without a formal government since the September 24 election as Merkel failed to form an alliance with two smaller parties. The agreement puts the Social Democrats in charge of the powerful Finance Ministry and the Foreign and Labor Ministries, as well as three other ministries it already held. Merkel's conservative bloc was also down 1 point at 29.5 percent.

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.

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