German SPD leader resigns amid infighting

Source: Xinhua| 2018-02-14 12:51:31|Editor: Yamei
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File photo taken on Sept. 24, 2017 shows German Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz attending a press conference at the SPD headquarters in Berlin, capital of Germany. Martin Schulz announced on Feb. 13, 2018 to resign with immediate effect as SPD chairman, according local media Focus Online. (Xinhua/Shan Yuqi)

BERLIN, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- German Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz Tuesday announced his resignation as the party's chairman, as the infighting inside the party continued.

"For me, this is the last speech as chairman of the SPD," said Schulz,quoted by German media Focus Online.

"It's a difficult job at times, but I retire without bitterness and resentment," Schulz said.

Schulz's announcement came after a turbulent week for him. Last Monday, the SPD reached an agreement with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Conservatives Union to form a grand cabinet in formal government coalition negotiations, a move likely to end the longest ever new government vacuum after the Sept. 24 federal elections.

However, Schulz, 62, announced two days later that he gave up the bid for foreign minister in the new government after he was heavily criticized by his party members as he previously said he wouldn't serve in the next German government.

Schulz said that he hoped his resignation would pave the way for "a new beginning" of the SPD and allow party members to focus on the coalition deal rather than personnel issues.

Last week, Schulz said he would quit to allow the party to regroup and recommended the SPD's parliamentary group leader and former Labor Minister Andrea Nahles as leader.

Hoping to contain the bitter infighting inside the party, the SPD has nominated Nahles to replace Schulz, pending approval on April 22 at a special party conference in the western city of Wiesbaden.

If Nahles is elected, she will become the first SPD chairwoman in the party's 150-year-long history.

The German Press Agency (DPA) reported that Hamburg's First Mayor Olaf Scholz, who will probably become Germany's finance minister in the upcoming new government, will be SPD's caretaker chairman until the April election.

Several state associations had formally objected to the immediate takeover of the top office by Nahles.

Before the elections, Schulz said the SPD would not form another grand coalition with the Union. But he changed his mind after the Union failed to form a government with two small parties.

Schulz, who is also former European Parliament president, was elected as SPD chairman with unanimous votes in March, but the SPD suffered the worst election result since 1949.

The SPD is currently divided over the coalition deal and the distribution of ministerial posts. Although the two parties have reached a deal, it is subject to the vote of the SPD's 464,000 party members scheduled for March 4.

If the SPD party members reject the coalition deal with Merkel, Germany might have a new election.

Germany has been without a formal government since the Sept. 24 election as Merkel failed to form an alliance with two smaller parties.

Nahles said that she would start campaigning at the weekend for members to approve the coalition agreement with Merkel.