Germany's Schulz steps down to ease tensions within SPD

Germany's Schulz steps down to ease tensions within SPD

Schulz has been troubled with criticism from within the SPD, especially the youth branch of the party which has been fervently against a coalition deal with Merkel.

German Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz announced on Tuesday to resign with immediate effect as Party chairman.

Under the prevailing statues of the SPD, the party's parliamentary vice-presidents are designated to take charge in the vacant period between the departure of an old and inauguration of a new party leader.

Ms Nahles was named by Mr Schulz as his chosen successor last week. Sigmar Gabriel, the serving foreign minister, attacked him in a newspaper interview for taking his job.

He said he hoped the party could "regain its former strength" under Nahles' leadership and as part of the German government - if members agreed to that in the upcoming ballot.

Leader of the SPD group in Thurianga, Matthias Hey, said: "Our mood regarding what is happening in Berlin now is down in the cellar".


The SPD members in Berlin and Saxony-Anhalt who oppose handing the reins over to Nahles include Berlin's Governing Mayor Michael Müller, who said before a meeting of the SPD's top committees that his national association wants "the party's chairs elected through an orderly process of delegates at a federal party convention, rather than appointed".

Nahles said she would start campaigning at the weekend for members to vote "yes" to a coalition with Merkel, who has led the European Union's most populous country and economic powerhouse since 2005.

Germany, which is Europe's biggest economy, has been without a government since September's elections when Mrs Merkel failed to clinch a majority.

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. The SPD was at a record low of 16.5 percent, barely ahead of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Many in the SPD rank and file are also unhappy with the coalition deal, which will renew an awkward ruling alliance with Merkel's bloc that has governed Germany since 2013.

The SPD originally wanted to reinvent itself in opposition but reconsidered when Merkel's attempt to form an alliance with two smaller parties failed late past year.

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