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Leadership row embroils Angela Merkel's coalition partners ahead of key vote

14 February 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leader of the Social Democrats (SPD) faced further criticism on Monday (12 February) from within their own parties over a new coalition deal that must still be approved by disgruntled SPD rank-and-file members, write Paul Carrel and Thorsten Severin.

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".

The SPD presidium has nominated the SPD parliamentary group leader and former Labor Minister Andrea Nahles as the new party leader, a decision pending approval, reports Xinhua.

Angela Merkekl
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With many SPD rank and file harboring misgivings about sharing power with Merkel again, the result of the vote, due on March 4, is wide open.

Deeply divided over the coalition deal and the division of ministerial posts, and facing a slump in opinion polls, SPD leaders are trying to convince 464,000 party members to back the deal in a ballot on which Merkel's fourth term hangs.

After initially declining a new coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, the party accepted it last week. Schulz proposed the head of SPD's parliamentary fraction, Andrea Nahles, as his successor, but it's now up to the party's congress to decide on its leadership.

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German's Social Democratic grass roots are in revolt and may veto a new government in their upcoming vote.

"There is no constitutional basis for such a move in our statues", Baumann-Hasske noted, adding that it would hence be impossible for Nahles to make "significant decisions" including with regards to party finances.

Schulz is expected to take a seat on the SPD's backbenches. In the meantime, deputy party leader and Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz would take over as interim leader, they said.

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

Schulz has also been criticized by fellow SPD politician and current Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel for pursuing the post.

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Leadership row embroils Angela Merkel's coalition partners ahead of key vote