Germany’s SPD votes on new party leadership following dismal European Parliament results

Germany’s SPD votes on new party leadership following dismal European Parliament results

The leader of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), Andrea Nahles, quit as party leader on Sunday after earlier seeking to put

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Photo: Reuters

The leader of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), Andrea Nahles, quit as party leader on Sunday after earlier seeking to put her future to the vote today.

This follows disastrous electoral defeats on May 26 and risks the collapse of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government, where the SPD is the junior coalition partner.

Any new leader will face the tricky decision on whether or not to pull the SPD out of government. Withdrawal may result in the party’s suffering even heavier losses should new elections be called now. On the other hand, many—especially the left-wing of the party—see going into opposition as the only way to differentiate the party from Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) after forming grand coalitions with the CDU for nearly 11 of the past 15 years. For them, remaining in government cements further electoral losses.

Although there are no clear contenders, speculation hovers on Vice-Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who wants out by the end of the term but is against leaving straight away. The former pro-coalition leader, Martin Schulz, also intends a leadership bid at some point. However, if a candidate emerges from the left-wing of the party, the chances of SPD pulling out increase significantly.

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