Germany centre-left party set to confirm first female leader

Germany centre-left party set to confirm first female leader

The party's membership will vote next week on the coalition deal struck last week between Mr Schulz and Mrs Merkel.

Schulz's decision to accept the post of foreign minister has also irked the incumbent, his party colleague Sigmar Gabriel, who called the move "disrespectful" on Thursday evening.

"With his decision to resign today, (Schulz) paved the way for a new beginning", Nahles said. But expectations that she would take over with immediate effect on a caretaker basis until a party conference triggered resistance as it breached party procedure.

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.

"That did not go down well with our (party) base", he said. 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.

Leader of the SPD group in Thurianga, Matthias Hey, said: "Our mood regarding what is happening in Berlin now is down in the cellar". The party's youth wing is already campaigning for a no-vote as it fears that another grand coalition with Mrs Merkel's conservatives will further erode the party's identity.




"It's a hard job at times, but I retire without bitterness and resentment", Schulz was quoted by German media Focus Online as saying.

That leaves open who from within the SPD may take up that post.

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

The development followed Schulz's announcement Friday that he was abandoning plans to become foreign minister in the new government. Media have speculated that one option might be Katarina Barley, a former SPD general secretary and family minister, or SPD veteran Thomas Oppermann. Juso leader Kevin Kuehnert has expressed concerns that the SPD would be electorally marginalized during another term as junior partner to the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU), calling for the renewal of German social democracy in opposition. The deal has potentially paved the way for Germany to finally form a government after months of political instability following the indecisive parliamentary elections in September.

The latest opinion poll of Insa has given the SPD just 16.5 percent of the vote.

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