Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Finance | By Kristine Clayton

German SPD leader Schulz confirms will not take ministerial job

German SPD leader Schulz confirms will not take ministerial job

The SPD, Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union reached the coalition deal on Wednesday, which will possibly end the new government vacuum since the September 24 federal election, the longest period ever since 1949.

Martin Schulz, the leader of Germany's Social Democratic party, has announced that he will not take up a ministerial post in the next coalition government, despite gaining key roles for his party from Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union.

Many in the SPD fear that re-entering a coalition with Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Bavarian CSU could damage the party in the long term.

Schulz, who was rumoured to be heading for the foreign ministry after agreeing a coalition deal with the CDU on Wednesday, said in a statement that he feared the upcoming SPD membership vote, which is required to approve a renewed "grand coalition", could be "endangered by the discussion surrounding my person". This had prompted unrest within Merkel's conservative ranks.

The Social Democrats are putting the coalition deal agreed on Wednesday to a ballot of all their members.

Many grassroots members of the centre-left SPD are sceptical about another tie-up with the conservatives after serving in a similar coalition in 2013-17. The SPD then suffered its worst result of the postwar era in September's election.

A Forsa poll had shown nearly three-quarters of Germans thought it would be wrong for Schulz to become foreign minister.

"For that reason, I declare that I won't enter into the federal government - and at the same time sincerely hope to put an end to the personnel debate within the SPD". He also said Andrea Nahles, the party's parliamentary leader, would take over as the Social Democrats' chairwoman.

"Now these SPD politicos, most of whom are relatively unknown outside Berlin, will be the ones to shape the politics of Europe and Germany, the EU's mightiest member, in the years to come".

The SPD's traditional left-wing youth organization, Jusos, have opposed a coalition government with the Christian Democrats, and called for reform within the party.

Peter Hauk, agriculture minister in the wealthy southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, said Merkel should enable a handover of power within the current four-year legislative period.

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

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