Thursday, 22 February, 2018

Martin Schulz: I won't be German foreign minister

Merkel has left herself with precious little room for manouvre Merkel has left herself with precious little room for manouvre Credit TOBIAS SCHWARZ AFP
Heather Davidson | 10 February, 2018, 06:46

Fourth, initially in return for the role of Foreign Minister, SPD leader Martin Schulz (re-elected just last year) chose to stand aside in favour of the party's federal parliament floor leader, Andrea Nahles (whose impassioned speech was considered a decisive moment at the Bonn conference, in stark contrast to Schulz's underwhelming performance). Should the vote fail, Germany could be headed to an unprecedented new election.

The SPD has managed to secure the finance, foreign and labour ministries as part of the deal, "a significant feat for the leader, Martin Schulz", who is set to land the job of foreign minister, says The Guardian.

"We all do politics for the people in this country", he said in a statement, "so it's appropriate that my personal ambitions should take a back seat to the interests of the party".

Any agreement will be submitted to a ballot of the Social Democrats' members, a process that will take a few weeks. He suggested the SPD had got the better end of the deal, tweeting: "This is the first SPD government led by a CDU chancellor".

The deal follows a month of frantic, and at times acrimonious, negotiations between the SPD and Merkel's centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

But now with a paucity of leaders, Nahles could be one of the SPD's last chances to rescue it from its misfortunes. With an eye on the post-Merkel era, party officials said Nahles could "present the party independently, outside the next cabinet".

But there was anger within the SPD ranks too.

Another reason for considering her position: the SPD leadership has proven a poisoned chalice for her six predecessors. On Thursday night, outgoing Foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel's lashed out at the SPD leadership for having a lack of respect for party members.

The SPD suffered its worst post-war electoral result, garnering just 20.5 percent of the vote, at the federal elections. A furious Gabriel has accused the party he led for eight years of shafting him.

Kevin Kühnert, the leader of the youth wing of the Social Democrats said the result of the party vote could go either way: "This is not easy to tell, I think the [outcome of] the ballot is completely open". In addition to the controversy over Schulz, Merkel herself has been under fire for giving key ministries to the SPD to extend her 12-year reign over Europe's biggest economy. "If the SPD can not come out successfully from this nearly ideal constellation, then they are lost".

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