Thursday, 22 February, 2018

Martin Schulz resigns as German SPD chief

Julia Klockner GETTYJulia Klockner stood by Angela Merkel after last year's disastrous election
Lillian Steele | 14 February, 2018, 19:21

Martin Schulz has resigned as the head of Germany's Social Democrats, Deutsche Welle reports.

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

The coalition deal signed with Merkel's conservatives could be in jeopardy as the battle for the SPD leadership continues to play out.

Just two days after the coalition deal was struck, Schulz announced he was abandoning his bid to serve as Germany's next foreign minister after heavy criticism from his party for seeking the job after he previously said he wouldn't serve in the next German government.

"There is no constitutional basis for such a move in our statues", Baumann-Hasske noted, adding that it would hence be impossible for Nahles to make "significant decisions" including with regards to party finances. "It is clear, unfortunately, that the public's regard for my work meant absolutely nothing to the new SPD leadership".

Regional SPD branches in Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein and Saxony-Anhalt all proposed that the party should instead be led by its parliamentary vice-presidents in the interim until Nahles is confirmed as leader at a party conference. SPD sources said Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz will be interim leader.

But Oettinger also conceded that this would be her final term as chancellor, if the new "grand coalition" goes ahead, addressing a succession debate that is starting to take hold as the CDU starts to look ahead to a post-Merkel era.

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

Schulz is expected to take a seat on the SPD's backbenches.

Gabriel last week launched an extraordinary attack against the party's leadership, apparently angry because Schulz was planning to take up Gabriel's position as foreign minister.

The SPD has agreed on a blueprint for coalition government with Ms Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and her Bavarian CSU allies.

Germany has been without a proper government since an inconclusive election last September, which saw Merkel's conservatives and the centre-left SPD both lose seats and a far-right party enter the Bundestag lower house for the first time.

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 past year.

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