Thursday

21st Sep 2017

Schulz to run against Merkel in Germany

The former European Parliament president, Martin Schulz, is to be the candidate of the Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) in its bid to unseat chancellor Angela Merkel in this year's election.

Schulz should be officially confirmed at a meeting on Sunday, after the party's leader, Sigmar Gabriel decided to stand aside.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Leaving the EU stage, Schulz peldges to fight populism in the German elections as Merkel's main challenger (Photo: European Parliament)

The SPD has been in government with Merkel’s Christian-Democrats (CDU) since 2013, with Gabriel as vice-chancellor and economy minister.

It will attempt to gather enough support to lead a different coalition after the vote, which will likely take place on 24 September.

The 61-year old Schulz is more popular than Gabriel, but has a slim chance of beating Merkel at the ballot box, however.

A recent poll by the Emnid institute for Bild, a German newspaper, said that in a direct vote Schulz would win 38 percent against 39 percent for Merkel.

It said Gabriel would only receive 27 percent of the votes against 46 percent for Merkel.

Merkel’s CDU party leads the SPD by an average 15 percentage points, according to other polls cited by the Reuters news agency.

At a joint news conference in the SPD headquarters in Berlin on Tuesday (24 January), Gabriel praised Schulz for taking a tough stance against right-wing populism across Europe, and said he would fight for social justice and democracy.

Schulz said he would fight the easy solutions offered by populists and extremists.

"With me, there will be no Europe bashing. There will be no hounding of minorities," he said, adding that Germany needed a new leadership in difficult times.

EU credentials

Schulz once wanted to be a footballer and later sold books in Aachen, a German town. Before moving to Brussels, he served as the mayor of the town of Wuerselen near the French border.

He announced in November that he would return to German politics. A member of the European Parliament since 1994, he is a relatively fresh face in German national politics.

He grabbed media attention when former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi likened him to a Nazi camp supervisor in 2003.

He became the EU parliament president in 2012, helping to make it into a more forceful and visible political actor in Brussels.

In 2014, he also ran, unsuccessfully, against former Luxembourg leader Jean-Claude Juncker to become president of the European Commission.

Ironically, while Gabriel feels politically tainted by the grand coalition he helped to steer with the centre-right in Berlin, Schulz was instrumental in building a grand coalition between the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the Socialists in Brussels.

Schulz’s European credentials might also be his weak spot.

The leader of the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD), Frauke Petry, said on Twitter about Schulz: “Symbol of EU bureaucracy and a deeply divided Europe as chancellor candidate?”.

Gabriel will soon step down as economy minister and become foreign minister, while the current SPD foreign affairs chief, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, will become Germany’s president.

Europe’s strongest leader, Merkel, who is running for a fourth term, still seems untouchable.

But she has come under fire from the right over migration, with the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU, threatening to run separately, and the far-right AfD gaining momentum while criticising Merkel for welcoming refugees.

EUobserved

Schulz: the end of a one-man parliament

Martin Schulz has been widely credited for raising the profile of the European Parliament during his terms at its helm. But he didn't do much to raise transparency and political accountability of the EU institutions.

Schulz fails to beat Merkel in German home state

Former EU parliament leader, Martin Schulz, says the defeat of his social-democrats in North Rhine-Westphalia is "difficult". The elections showed that a "Schulz effect" does not (yet) exist.

Johnson challenges May on hard Brexit

In yet an another attempt at becoming Tory leader, the UK foreign secretary argues for a hard Brexit, while PM Theresa May is expected to set out her strategy, including a financial settlement with the EU, on Friday.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan leader decries Spanish government intervention
  2. Hungary set for fresh campaign against public enemy Soros
  3. Iceland's PM leads in polls ahead of October elections
  4. Erdogan demands Iraqi Kurds cancel referendum
  5. Ireland to hold referendum on ownership of water
  6. Report: May to offer €20bn as Brexit bill in Florence speech
  7. Merkel poised to win election despite CDU dip in polls
  8. EU unveils cyber security ideas

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressCommends the German Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  2. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  3. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  4. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  6. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  7. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  8. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  9. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel
  10. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Urges Bigger Global Role for Emerging Economies
  11. EU2017EEAre We Socially Insured in the Future of Work?
  12. European Jewish CongressFrench Authorities to Root Out "Societal Antisemitism" After Jewish Family Assaulted