Schulz Abruptly Drops Bid to Be Merkel's Next Foreign Minister

11 February, 2018, 05:15 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • Schulz Abruptly Drops Bid to Be Merkel's Next Foreign Minister

"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.

Conservative MP Sylvia Pantel said Mrs Merkel will face opposition at the next party congress, adding: "The simple nods of acceptance she is used to will not take place".

Any agreement will be submitted to a ballot of the Social Democrats' members, a process that will take a few weeks. The far-right party campaigned on an anti-immigration, anti-Muslim message during the election - and clinched its role as the third-largest party in parliament by winning 94 seats.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) are seeking to revive the "grand coalition" alliance that has governed Germany for the past four years.

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The two men are former friends and Mr Gabriel has alleged they made a deal in 2016 under which he would get to stay on as foreign minister in return for stepping aside as party leader to make way for Mr Schulz.

Nahles said in an interview with ZDF television this week she was confident the "very bold" left-wing character of the contract with Merkel would win members over.

SPD members will vote on the final coalition deal between February 20 and March 2.

There is little chance they will block it, but the gathering will show off just how much Merkel's star has faded among a base that has always been loyal to the hilt, as a growing volume of grumbling has made clear since this week.

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"The way in which Schulz left could make it hard to quickly focus on the party's achievements in the coalition talks", Carsten Nickel, a Brussels-based analyst at Teneo Intelligence, said in an e-mail response to questions.

For the German press, such open resistance to Merkel is a sign that the long-serving leader could be on the way out.

Many Social Democrats don't want to revive the "grand" coalition of Germany's two biggest parties, which underpinned two of Merkel's three terms. "But her farewell to power has begun, and thereby the debate about her succession", news weekly Der Spiegel commented.

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