Lead­er­ship row drags SPD into new cri­sis af­ter Merkel coali­tion deal

Iran Daily - - International -

Ger­many’s So­cial Democrats sank fur­ther into chaos on Tues­day as re­sis­tance grew to plans to ap­point An­drea Nahles care­taker leader to help end a tur­bu­lent six days af­ter the party agreed a coali­tion deal with Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s con­ser­va­tives.

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

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. If mem­bers vote ‘no’ to the coali­tion deal, a new elec­tion looks the most likely op­tion.

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 fron­trun­ner is Nahles, a plain-speak­ing 47-year-old for­mer la­bor min­is­ter with a left-wing slant and strong or­a­tory skills, but the man­ner in which Schulz ap­peared to anoint her an­gered many mem­bers.

In par­tic­u­lar, plans for her to take over with im­me­di­ate ef­fect on a care­taker ba­sis un­til a party con­fer­ence ex­pected in March has led to re­sis­tance as it breaches party pro­ce­dure.

The SPD steer­ing com­mit­tee and board meet later on Tues­day to de­cide on a tem­po­rary suc­ces­sor to Schulz and some mem­bers have com­plained it looks like a stitch-up.

The mayor of the north­ern city of Flens­burg, Si­mone Lange, said she would stand against Nahles. The post was “of great im­por­tance for the whole party and the whole coun­try and should not be de­cided by a small in­ter­nal group,” wrote Lange, ac­cord­ing to her let­ter widely cited by Ger­man me­dia.

The Berlin branch of the SPD also op­poses Nahles’ ap­point­ment as care­taker leader.

Other se­nior party mem­bers back Nahles and urged the party to put its house in or­der quickly.

“Every one of us would be well ad­vised to put the in­ter­ests of the party and coun­try above per­sonal am­bi­tion. End the lack of dis­ci­pline in the SPD!” one of the party’s deputy lead­ers, Ralf Steg­ner, told the Rhein-neckar-zeitung.

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

Schulz ditched plans to take the post of for­eign min­is­ter af­ter fierce crit­i­cism from some for­mer al­lies, not least be­cause he had vowed not to serve in a cab­i­net with Merkel.

That leaves open who from within the SPD may take up that post. Me­dia have spec­u­lated that one op­tion might be Kata­rina Bar­ley, a for­mer SPD gen­eral sec­re­tary and fam­ily min­is­ter, or SPD vet­eran Thomas Op­per­mann.

Europe’s big­gest econ­omy has been with­out a for­mal gov­ern­ment since the Septem­ber 24 elec­tion and in­vestors are wor­ried about a de­lay in pol­i­cy­mak­ing, both at home and in Europe.

WOLF­GANG RATTAY/REUTERS Ger­many’s So­cial Demo­cratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz and SPD par­lia­men­tary group leader An­drea Nahles at­tend the SPD’S one-day party con­gress in Bonn, Ger­many, on Jan­uary 21, 2018.

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