Published: Wed, February 14, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Martin Schulz resigns as leader of Germany's Social Democrats

Martin Schulz resigns as leader of Germany's Social Democrats

"If I can contribute to that by resigning, it will have been worth it", he said outside the SPD headquarters.

Nahles, 47, shot to national political fame during the fraught days of the last SPD government 15 years ago when, as a left-wing lawmaker, she helped lead a party rebellion against its tough social reforms.

The coalition deal signed with Merkel's conservatives could be in jeopardy as the battle for the SPD leadership continues to play out.

The resignation of Schulz is a major blow to the stability of the already fragile grand coalition for Chancellor Angela Merkel, who failed to form a coalition government with the libertarian Free Democrats and the Green Party back in November.

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In his resignation, Schulz gave his endorsement to parliamentary group leader Andrea Nahles for a leadership election that will take place on April 22nd.

The new governance agreement, however, is yet to be voted on by party members.

The party leadership reversed course Tuesday and said they were nominating Nahles to run for election as chairwoman at a special party congress on April 22.

"Not only has a Bavarian politician passed the pinnacle of his career, but probably a woman from the north too", he added in a dig at Merkel and Horst Seehofer, leader of the arch-conservative Bavarian sister party (CSU) to Merkel's CDU.

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Schulz is expected to take a seat on the SPD's backbenches. "No more indiscipline in the SPD", said Ralf Stegner, the regional SPD leader in Schleswig-Holstein.

In a cartoon on Tuesday, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily showed Nahles with a whip riding an SPD snail. The former European Parliament president said last Wednesday that he planned to become Germany's next foreign minister - a risky move given that, after the election, he had explicitly ruled out entering Merkel's next cabinet. Mr Schulz secured six ministries in a new government for the SPD, including finance, foreign and labour, giving the Social Democrats a critical role in shaping Berlin's policy on Europe over the next four years. Mr Schulz on Friday abandoned his plan to become Germany's next foreign minister after the SPD's youth wing accused him of securing a favourable position for himself.

The chairman of the Association of Social Democratic Lawyers in the SPD, Harald Baumann-Hasske, also brought up the legality of appointing a new chair, per the party's charter.

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