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Leadership row embroils Angela Merkel's coalition partners ahead of key vote

14 February, 2018, 19:22 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Angela Merkel

The head of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD), Martin Schulz, has resigned to ease preparations for a coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.

Opponents from the SPD to a new coalition have been campaigning under the slogan: "Join, and say no".

The embattled leader of the SPD suddenly gave up plans to become the next foreign minister on Friday, hoping to shore up support among SPD members for a new coalition with Mrs. Merkel's Christian Democrats.

Michael Mueller, head of the SPD in Berlin and mayor of the German capital, told the newspaper "Berliner Morgenpost" that he did not reject Nahles' candidacy for the leadership as such, but was in favor of a "clean process" as established by the party constitution.

An INSA poll published on Tuesday showed the SPD at a record low of 16.5 percent, only 1.5 percentage points ahead of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

This comes as the leader of the SPD Mr Schulz will hand over the role of leader of the SPD to Andrea Nahles. SPD members will vote on the coalition deal next month - the result is expected on 4 March.

Meanwhile, according to a survey, around two-thirds of Germans do not consider the SPD fit for national government, less than two weeks before the party is set to vote on a new coalition deal with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, as reported by the dpa.

The center-left party is now divided over whether to sign on for another four years in a so-called "grand coalition" with Merkel.

Scholz played up the SPD's achievements in coalition negotiations with Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and her Bavarian allies, at which the centre-left party won the powerful finance ministry to the frustration of many in the CDU. Last year's general election in September saw the SPD receive 20.5 percent - the party's worst postwar electoral result.

Nahles, a plain-speaking 47-year-old former labor 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.

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.

If approved, a coalition deal would end Germany's longest period without a government since the Second World War.

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