ANGELA Merkel’s hopes of finally stitching together a coalition government in Germany have been thrown into chaos after civil war broke out amongst her Social Democrat allies following the resignation of their leader Martin Schulz.
Schulz quits as SPD leader after refusing to serve under Merkel
Ms Nahles, the 47-year-old former employment minister, remains favourite to succeed Mr Schulz and become the first woman to lead the party but Simone Lang, the relatively unknown mayor of Flensburg, a small city near the Danish border, has announced she will stand and force a vote.
Martin Schulz’s resignation has thrown Angela Merkel’s coalition bid into chaos
Martin Schulz stood down after losing the confidence of his party
Each of us would be well advised to put the interest of the party and the country before their own ambitions
The postal ballot on whether the party should go ahead with the agreement its leaders clinched last week to renew their power sharing alliance with Mrs Merkel’s conservative bloc opens on February 20.
The coalition deal envisages stronger Franco-German cooperation, allocating budget funds for economic stabilisation in Europe, increased German contributions to the EU budget, and transforming the ESM bailout fund into a European Monetary Fund.
Andrea Nahles is tipped to succeed Martin Schulz
Results are due on March 4 and “no” vote would almost certainly mean new elections and yet more uncertainty in Germany.
Ms Nahles is trying to persuade wavering party members to support the coalition deal but it is not clear whether she will be able to do so as leader.
Ralf Stegner, the regional SPD leader in Schleswig-Holstein, said: “Each of us would be well advised to put the interest of the party and the country before their own ambitions. No more indiscipline in the SPD.”
But three regional associations led by the powerful Berlin local party said installing Ms Nahles as interim leader is against party rules and one of the current deputies should step in until members can vote on a new leader.
A formal election will now have to be held after Ms Lange declared her candidacy.