Saturday, 24 February, 2018

German foreign minister slams likely successor for betrayal

Merkel has left herself with precious little room for manouvre Merkel has left herself with precious little room for manouvre Credit TOBIAS SCHWARZ AFP
Andrew Cummings | 11 February, 2018, 05:16

Under the terms of the deal struck between Merkel and Schulz earlier this week, the SPD will keep the foreign ministry it held in the last government and also take over the finance ministry from the CDU.

Schulz said, growing debate surrounding his bid for Foreign Ministry portfolio, could jeopardize the upcoming vote of SPD members on the coalition agreement.

The perception among Social Democratic Party activists that party chief Schulz had fashioned himself a life raft from the wreckage of an election disaster threatened chances the rank and file would green-light a controversial coalition deal sealed just two days ago.

"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". Many of them are skeptical after the party's disastrous election result, which followed four years of a "grand coalition" with the party serving as junior partner to Merkel's conservatives.

The new coalition will put the far-right Alternative for Germany, the third-largest party in the German parliament, known as the Bundestag, in the opposition.

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A breakthrough was finally announced on Wednesday, with major concessions given to the SPD.

He was also facing anger over his treatment of Sigmar Gabriel, the current foreign minister and Germany's most popular politician, who had looked set to be forced out of government by Mr Schulz's decision to take the job. The results from that are due in early March, and that vote is now looking too close to call either way.

Those opposed to any deal with Mrs Merkel include a new group within the SPD calling itself NoGroKo (no grand coalition).

For the SPD, the backbiting went public when Gabriel, Germany's acting foreign minister, attacked the leadership for planning to remove him from his post - and implying that he'd been promised that he could continue as the country's top diplomat.

After the SPD's losses in the September 24 national election, Schulz announced that the SPD would go into coalition and that he wouldn't hold talks with Merkel.

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