Friday

18th Aug 2017

Germany's SPD crowns Schulz, breaks with French left

  • "SPD is back," said Martin Schulz (l), who took over from Sigmar Gabriel (r) as party leader and candidate for chancellor. (Photo: SPD)

Martin Schulz was elected leader of the German Social-Democratic Party (SPD) on Sunday (19 March) in his campaign to dethrone Angela Merkel in September.

"I want to be the next chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany," he told a party congress in Berlin after securing an unprecedented election win with 100-percent of party delegates' votes.

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.

"SPD is back. We are back," he said.

He said he wanted the SPD to become "the strongest political force" to make Germany "better and fairer, and give the people the respect they deserve".

Schulz, 61, took over from Sigmar Gabriel as SPD leader after becoming the party's candidate in January.

Gabriel, the vice-chancellor in a grand coalition government with Christian-Democrat Angela Merkel, had been trailing in opinion polls.

But a survey published over the weekend showed that the SPD is now closely behind Merkel's CDU, at 32 percent against 33 percent - 15 percentage points more than in January.

Schulz, whose slogan is "time for justice," said he wanted to improve the education system, increase public investment in schools and nurseries, and reduce the "intolerable pay gap" between the eastern and western parts of Germany.

"If we don't ensure that things are socially equitable, then no one will," he said, adding that an SPD win in the 24 September elections would be "good news for the people of Germany and Europe".

The Social-Democratic candidate, who was president of the European Parliament until January, said that with him, "there will be no Europe-bashing".

"Those who want to do away with the EU will find in me an energetic opponent," he said. "Anyone who thinks that you can separate national interests from Europe is wasting away the future of Germany."

Attacking the anti-EU and anti-migrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, he said that AfD was "not an alternative" but a "shame" for the country.

Schulz refrained from attacking Merkel directly but said that her party's fiscal plans were "extremely unfair … economically unreasonable and dividing our society".

The new SPD leader stressed the need for more social justice, but his election would not mark a big shift to the left.

The party even indicated a break with its traditional alliance with France's Socialist Party (PS).

In an address to the party congress before Schulz's speech, Gabriel instead expressed support for Emmanuel Macron, a centrist candidate for the French presidency, and not for PS candidate Benoit Hamon.

"Imagine that Emmanuel Macron becomes president in France, and Martin [Schulz] chancellor. [Imagine] All the things we'll be able to change," said Gabiel, who last week participated in a debate with Macron in Berlin.

'Money party'

Hamon, who was elected party candidate in a primary election, represents the left wing of the PS. In a meeting in Paris on Sunday, he chose Macron as his main target.

"I don't have the ambition to become the CEO of the 'France' site, but to become president of the Republic, to serve exclusively French men and women," he said, referring to Macron's pro-business ideas and to his former job as a banker.

He said that "the money party" had too many candidates in the election.

"The money party has several names, several faces," he said, referring to Macron as well as conservative candidate Francois Fillon, and to far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Macron meets Merkel, says France must reform

The independent liberal candidate to the presidential election said in Berlin that France must reform itself if it wants to remain close to Germany and play a role in Europe.

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.

Martin Schulz, down but not out against Merkel

After the Social Democrats' crushing defeat in its party leader's home state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the odds seem stacked against them for the rapidly approaching federal election in September.

Focus

Political games behind Germany's gay marriage vote

Gay marriage was adopted in a snap vote at the German parliament on Friday. But lesbians and gays acquired this right after German chancellor Angela Merkel tried to sabotage the electoral campaigns of her opponents.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides