Germany coalition: SPD's Schulz gives up cabinet role to save deal

10 February, 2018, 02:55 | Author: Elaine Woods
  • Germany's Coalition Is Italy's Salvation

A deal to govern with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives still has to be put to a vote of SPD members. Should the vote fail, Germany could be headed to an unprecedented new election.

The head of the Social Democrats' youth wing, who is campaigning against the new coalition, said party members should give up fighting about who does what job and concentrate on debating whether the party enters the government.

"I sincerely hope that this (decision) will end the personnel debates within the SPD", Schulz, a former president of the European Parliament, said in a statement.

Indeed, should Nahles convince a majority of the SPD rank-and-file to back the coalition deal, it could help to set her on the road to becoming the party's chancellor-candidate at the next national election in 2021.

Her appointment comes 18 years after the SPD's regular political rivals, the conservative Christian Democrats, elected its first female leader: Angela Merkel.

A Forsa poll had indicated that nearly three-quarters of Germans thought it would be wrong for Schulz to become foreign minister. A party meeting in January narrowly approved talks with Merkel's Christian Democratic-led bloc, laying bare the divisions.

The upheaval eclipses the conclusion of arduous negotiations, with Merkel's faction and the SPD seeking to sell advances on areas such as pension protections, migration and upgrading Germany's digital economy.

Germany's Coalition Is Italy's Salvation
Martin Schulz: I won't be German foreign minister

In November, German agriculture minister Christian Schmidt caused worldwide controversy and a major row in Germany's government by unexpectedly backing a European Commission proposal to permit use of glyphosate for the next five years.

For Schulz, who was heralded as the SPD's savior a year ago, the withdrawal likely marks the final fall from grace. Many of them are skeptical after the party's disastrous election result, which followed four years of a "grand coalition" with the party serving as junior partner to Merkel's conservatives. He was then accused of flip-flopping, when he announced on Wednesday that he would cede the party chairmanship to succeed Sigmar Gabriel as foreign minister.

"What's left is regret at how little respect there is in the Social Democratic Party in our dealings with one another, and how little someone's word counts for", Gabriel told the Funke newspaper group.

Tensions are also reported between him and Sigmar Gabriel, an SPD colleague who is now foreign minister.

The Social Democrats came out the big victor, Soraya says.

Schulz was Merkel's defeated challenger in September.

If a deal emerges, it won't bring an immediate end to the political limbo following Germany's September 24 election.

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