Germany's Schulz abandons plan to become foreign minister

Germany's Schulz abandons plan to become foreign minister

The SPD, Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union reached the coalition deal on Wednesday, which will possibly end the new government vacuum since the September 24 federal election, the longest period ever since 1949.

Germany's embattled Social Democratic leader Martin Schulz abruptly dropped his bid to become Chancellor Angela Merkel's next foreign minister, saying an outcry over his claim to the post endangers a critical membership vote to end the country's political impasse.

A deal to govern with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives still has to be put to a vote of SPD members. In addition to the controversy over Schulz, Merkel herself has been under fire for giving key ministries to the SPD to extend her 12-year reign over Europe's biggest economy.

The move by Schmidt, a conservative, effectively allowed the extension in glyphosate use within the European Union, despite opposition from France and from the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) in Germany's current government coalition.

Many grassroots members of the centre-left party are sceptical about another tie-up with the conservatives after serving in a similar coalition in 2013-17.

"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".

German media report that SPD members in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia were especially opposed to Mr Schulz - formerly European Parliament president - becoming foreign minister.

Sigmar Gabriel, a popular foreign minister in the previous government and until recently seen as a close friend of Schulz, bitterly attacked his party leader in an interview on Thursday, hinting at broken promises.

September's general election was a disaster for the party, however.

Kuehnert, 28, is travelling around the country urging members to vote against a "grand coalition". Paul Ziemiak, leader of the bloc's youth wing, called for a broad discussion about the longer-term future of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its leadership.

Merkel faced an uphill struggle to maintain power for another four years following a disastrous election campaign.

The move drew criticism from SPD members, who believed their party should reinvent itself in opposition.

Some commentators have suggested a mid-term review due two years into the government could offer Merkel the opportunity to step down gracefully from a job she has held since 2005.

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