BERLIN, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) chairman Martin Schulz announced on Friday that he would not pursue ministerial post in new "grand coalition" government, including the foreign minister.
Schulz hereby reacted to growing calls within the SPD for him not to join Chancellor Angela Merkel's (CDU) fourth governing cabinet.
The former president of the European Parliament had originally vowed to return to the opposition benches following electoral defeat. The SPD recorded its worst result (20.5 percent) since World War II in September's elections, prompting wild speculation over the political future of its lead candidate Schulz.
Explaining the decision not to become Foreign Minister after all, Schulz expressed hope that his resignation would "end personnel debates within the SPD".
German newspaper BILD had reported earlier that the SPD leadership presented Schulz with an ultimatum on Friday afternoon to stand down from Germany's next federal government.
Despite winning significant policy concession from Chancellor Merkel's CDU/CSU bloc on Europe, pensions and domestic labor law, as well as securing the prestigious Finance, Foreign and Labor ministries for itself, the SPD has continued to experience bitter infighting since the conclusion of "grand coalition" negotiations.
Kevin Kuehnert, the leader of the SPD Youth Organization (Juso), criticized that Schulz had unilaterally decided to pass the party leadership to SPD parliamentary faction leader Andrea Nahles while switching into the role of foreign minister.
Kuehnert lamented that the internal divisions sparked by this move meant that a much-needed political debate over the content of the "grand coalition" agreement among SPD members was being overshadowed by "large egos".
Outgoing Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD), in particular, had attacked Schulz for breaking a promise by usurping his ministerial post.
Unlike in the CDU and CSU, more than 460,000 SPD members must still approve the final coalition agreement, and hence whether or not to join another Merkel government, in an upcoming referendum.
Addressing the party base after revealing his resignation on Friday, Schulz reiterated his opinion that the legislative pact agreed by the CDU, CSU and SPD had the potential to improve the lives of Germans in many ways.
"I have always emphasized that we would only join a coalition if our social democratic demands for improvements in education, social care, retirement, labor and taxation are reflected in this contract. I am proud to be able to say that this is the case," Schulz's statement read.
As a consequence, it was "of the highest importance" to Schulz that SPD members voted in favor of the party supporting another "grand coalition" at the specially-convened conference.
Beyond the SPD, German politicians reacted with a mix of pity and gloating at the news of Schulz' premature departure from federal politics.
"This step won't help the SPD much either," Left party (Linke) leader Sahra Wagenknecht told press. It would have been better if Schulz had "made the decision independently, and not under pressure", Wagenknecht added.
By contrast, Green party (Gruene) parliamentary vice-president Katrin Goering-Eckardt said that one could "feel sorry for all of those involved".
According to Goering-Eckardt, the attempt to resolve personnel debates in the SPD reflected a "special form of self-flagellation" in which codes of proper conduct among party colleagues had been abandoned.
Marco Buschmann, administrative head of the Free Democratic Party's (FDP) parliamentary faction, gloated that "that the new grand-coalition is dismantling itself before it has even been inaugurated."
In the meanwhile, first voices were heard among senior SPD figures advocating for Gabriel to now hold on to his post as Foreign Minister for one more government term. Remarking that he had done a good job in the role so far, SPD politician Johannes Kahrs tweeted that "Gabriel should remain Foreign Minister".