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

11 February, 2018, 05:15 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Germany moves toward a new coalition government after major concessions by Angela Merkel

"I hereby declare my decision not to join the federal government and at the same time I sincerely hope that this will end the personnel debates within the SPD", said Mr Schulz.

"We all do politics for the people in this country", he said in a statement, "so it's appropriate that my personal ambitions should take a back seat to the interests of the party".

But the Social Democrats have been hesitant to sign up for a third round as Merkel's junior partners - partly over fears the party was moving too far to the right. The paper cited Friedrich Merz, a former CDU rival whom Merkel sidelined after becoming party chairwoman in 2000, as saying the coalition deal was a "humiliation" for the Christian Democrats.

The leader of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD), Martin Schulz, has abandoned a plan to serve as foreign minister in a new coalition government. This had prompted unrest within Merkel's conservative ranks. Schulz had suggested his successor should be parliamentary group chief Andrea Nahles, according to German media.

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On Wednesday, Schulz told colleagues he planned to resign as leader of the SPD after party members have voted on the coalition deal.

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.

Merkel's CDU is holding a party congress February 26 to endorse the deal. The result, expected March 4, is unpredictable because many are suspicious of entering a new government after a disastrous election result.

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 centre-left party is on course to run six ministries, including finance and foreign affairs.

"The CDU is structurally weakened in the government and loses influence" under the deal, influential lawmaker Norbert Roettgen said.

Many Social Democrats have blamed their poor showing on the party's membership in the previous "grand coalition". "But her farewell to power has begun, and thereby the debate about her succession", news weekly Der Spiegel commented.

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