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SPD Appoints Andrea Nahles New Leader Amid Merkel Coalition Deal
10 February 2018, 06:46 | Melanie Burgess
German SPD leader Schulz confirms will not take ministerial job
Angela Merkel's conservatives and their Social Democrat (SPD) partners faced a chorus of scepticism yesterday as allies and opponents alike criticised a loveless coalition deal that some said showed the German chancellor's time was coming to an end.
However, the agreement needs to be approved in a vote by over 460,000 members of the Social Democrats.
And in Berlin they demanded that Germany return to the European Union leadership position. Its leader, Paul Ziemiak, called for a broad discussion about the longer-term future of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
"I hereby forgo joining the federal government", Schulz announced, adding, "at the same time, I sincerely hope that this will end the personnel debates within the SPD".
The Social Democrats are widely viewed to have secured a good deal in the coalition negotiations capturing the powerful finance ministry, along with the foreign and labor ministries and three others that it already held.
Schulz had originally said he would not take a job in a government led by Merkel but then said on Wednesday he wanted to take the helm at the foreign ministry - a move for which he was widely criticized.
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A rebellion is also growing in the ranks of Merkel's conservative CDU, with former allies arguing that she had ceded too much power to the left-leaning SPD in order to rule for a further four years as the head of a coalition government.
Andrea Nahles takes over as SPD leader and is expected to rebuild the party, which suffered its worst ever result in September's election.
First, SPD membership is relatively old (more than half is over 60), and older citizens are more likely to support a grand coalition, hankering after the stability of having a government in place.
Tensions are also reported between him and Sigmar Gabriel, an SPD colleague who is now foreign minister.
"What remains is actually regret at how disrespectful our treatment within the SPD toward one another has become - for how little a promise counts", Gabriel told Funke media group in an interview.
Schulz was Merkel's defeated challenger in September. The results will be announced on March 4, according to party officials. If Merkel does hang on for another term, there could be dire long-term consequences for both her party and the Social Democrats - and her last term might usher in a more extreme alternative. He reversed that position under pressure in November after Merkel's talks with the Greens and Free Democrats to form a multi-party government collapsed in acrimony.
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