01-30-17 by Spotlight Zimbabwe

Ex-EU Parly President nominated to challenge for German chancellorship

Martin Schulz

Former European Parliament president Martin Schulz has been nominated by Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) as the party’s candidate for the chancellery in the coming national elections scheduled for September, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) reported on Sunday.

The SPD is a major partner of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition. The center-left party made the decision at a conclave in Berlin on Sunday, a few days after Vice-Chancellor and Economic Minister Sigmar Gabriel announced his resignation from party chairman and proposed Schulz to replace him.

The decision will be formalized at a special party conference to be held on March 19 when Schulz, 61, is expected to be officially elected to be SPD chairman, DPA reported quoting sources.

Gabriel, a long-time hopeful for SPD candidate to challenge sitting Chancellor Merkel, suddenly announced on Wednesday that he would not participate in the Sept. 24 general elections and would also step down as SPD chairman.

The 57-year-old political veteran, who has also given up his post as economic minister, took over the foreign ministry portfolio on Friday from Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is expected to become the country’s next president in February.

Sources here told Xinhua that Gabriel’s decision not to run against Merkel as SPD candidate largely because of poor poll results while Schulz candidacy would instead raise SPD’s prospects in the upcoming elections.

According to DPA reports, a recent survey published on Friday showed support for the SPD has jumped by 3 percentage points since the beginning of the year to 24 percent, but still 12 percentage points behind Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its ally, Bavarian-based Christian Social Union (CDU).

If Germans could directly elect their chancellor, sitting chancellor Merkel would get 44 percent of the votes, while Schulz would follow closely with 40 percent, according to the survey drawn up by pollsters Forschungsgruppe Wahlen for the German public broadcaster ZDF.

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