Flying leadership transfer inside Germany's SPD meets with resistance

Posted February 16, 2018

Shortly after, the party's leadership announced that it supported the chairman of the SPD parliamentary group Andrea Nahles for the post.

Nahles still needs to be formally nominated by the party executive, which is meeting on Tuesday evening.

The most urgent matter for the SPD is to get a new leader in place after Martin Schulz said last week he would quit to allow the party to regroup.

The move comes less than a week after Schulz resigned from his appointment as Foreign Minister under the new so-called Grand Coalition government between the SPD, Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU).

As recently as Monday, SPD secretary general Lars Klingbeil reiterated a long-standing demand for a change in party statutes which would require a binding membership vote on the election of any leader rather than their selection by the party's elite leadership circle.

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Results are due on March 4 and "no" vote would nearly certainly mean new elections and yet more uncertainty in Germany.

Gesine Loetzsch, a senior opposition lawmaker, told Bloomberg that she anticipated SPD members would vote to back the coalition to stem the continuing decline in support.

Nahles, a plain-speaking 47-year-old former labour minister with a left-wing slant and strong oratory skills, is the frontrunner and would become the first female leader in the party's 154-year history. Nahles faces a challenge for the SPD's top post from Flensburg Mayor Simone Lange.

The leader of the SPD's youth wing is travelling around Germany urging the party's 464,000 members to vote against the deal in the postal ballot.

Regional SPD branches in Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein and Saxony-Anhalt all proposed that the party should instead be led by its parliamentary vice-presidents in the interim until Nahles is confirmed as leader at a party conference.

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Germany's stumbling efforts to install a new coalition government under the leadership of Angela Merkel remains on track despite a grassroots rebellion that led to the downfall of one of the country's most prominent politicians, analysts said Wednesday.

In a cartoon published on Tuesday, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily showed Nahles with a whip riding an SPD snail.

Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz announced his resignation, DPA reported.

She was forced to hand over control of the finance ministry to the SPD in the division of portfolios agreed as part of the coalition negotiations.

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 previous year.

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