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Martin Schulz exits coalition in bid to stave off revolt
10 February 2018, 06:44 | Gordon Grant
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats sealed a deal on a new coalition on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), potentially ending four months of political deadlock in Europe's top economy.
The leader of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD), Martin Schulz, gave up plans on Friday to become the country's next foreign minister, hoping to shore up support among his party's members for a new "grand coalition" with Angela Merkel's conservatives.
The Chancellor reached an accord with her former coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD), after the longest period without an elected government in post-war Germany.
The Social Democrats are widely viewed to have secured a good deal in the coalition negotiations capturing the powerful finance ministry, along with the foreign and labor ministries and three others that it already held.
"A lot of the SPD members, especially the younger ones that I know feel like they're being betrayed. yes the SPD will get another four years in government but it may actually not be a majority party in another 8-12 years" time, or even at the next election' said Christoph Nguyen, political science researcher at Berlin's Free University.
Social Democrats' boss Martin Schulz, who previous year led the party to its worst national election result since World War II, looks headed for the Foreign Ministry.
A Forsa poll showed nearly three-quarters of Germans thought it would be wrong for Schulz to become foreign minister, while only around a quarter thought that would be the right move.
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Schulz's choice to step aside "deserves the highest respect and recognition", said Andrea Nahles, his likely successor as party chair. Schulz had said shortly after the election last September that he wouldn't join another grand coalition, insisting the party would instead now "renew itself" in opposition.
However, the agreement is subject to the approval of the total SPD party members, over 460,000 in number, in the coming weeks.
The smallest of the parties in Germany's prospective new government has signed off on this week's coalition deal, but bigger hurdles lie ahead.
A survey by pollsters Civey found this week that around 60 percent of SPD supporters would back the party entering government once again.
The anger towards Schulz is all the greater given he ruled out ever joining a Merkel cabinet.
Paul Ziemiak, leader of the youth sing of the CDU and Christian Social Union (CSU) said the party needed to think about who would take over from Merkel, now on the bring of a fourth term.
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