German foreign minister slams likely successor for betrayal

10 February, 2018, 06:43 | Author: Barbara Daniel
  • Meet the Social Democrat poised to run Merkel's finance ministry

Ms Merkel made heavy concessions to the Social Democrats (SPD) after breaking more than four months of political deadlock to agree to form a coalition government - including handing over the powerhouse Finance Ministry.

Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) chairman Martin Schulz announced on Friday that he would not pursue ministerial post in the next German government, including the foreign minister. His announcement upset the incumbent, Sigmar Gabriel, who bemoaned the "lack of respect" his labors had received.

The SPD and CDU both had their worst results for decades in the election, which catapulted the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) into parliament for the first time, with 94 seats.

Since Merkel took over the CDU leadership in 2000, she has seen six SPD leaders come and go as the party grapples with an identity crisis.

A Forsa poll showed nearly three-quarters of Germans thought it would be wrong for Schulz to become foreign minister, while only around a quarter thought that would be the right move.

"Therefore, I hereby declare that I am withdrawing my bid to enter the federal government, and sincerely hope that this would end the candidacy debate within the SPD", Schulz said in a written statement.

The SPD's youth wing Jusos - an abbreviation for Jungsozialisten, or young socialists- is the youth wing of the left-leaning SPD, Germany's oldest and second-most-powerful political party.

The anger towards Schulz is all the greater given he ruled out ever joining a Merkel cabinet.

The perception among SPD activists that Schulz had constructed a life raft from the wreckage of an election disaster led many analysts to predict that the party's rank and file membership would not authorise the coalition deal sealed just two days ago.

Wednesday's report, which cited unnamed participants, said that Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, its Bavaria-only sister party, the Christian Social Union, and the center-left Social Democrats, achieved a breakthrough on the division of ministries. For a party with only 20 percent support, that is an impressive result.

The Social Democrats are putting the agreement secured Wednesday to a ballot of their more than 460,000 members. Gabriel said Germans appear to think he has been successful "and it's clear I regret that the new Social Democrat leadership didn't care about this public appreciation of my work".

Some commentators have suggested a mid-term review due two years in to the government could offer Merkel the opportunity to step down gracefully from a job she has held since 2005.

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