Martin Schulz resigns as German SPD chief

Martin Schulz resigns as German SPD chief

Meanwhile, according to a survey, around two-thirds of Germans do not consider the SPD fit for national government, less than two weeks before the party is set to vote on a new coalition deal with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, as reported by the dpa.

Paul Ziemiak, leader of the conservatives' youth wing, welcomed Merkel's readiness to set out her picks for ministerial posts before a CDU party conference on February 26. His resignation went into effect immediately.

"With my resignation from office and decision not to participate in the government, I want to bring the personnel debate in the SPD to an end so that the members can really concentrate on what is in the coalition agreement", Schulz told reporters.

Regional SPD branches in Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein and Saxony-Anhalt all proposed that the party should instead be led by its parliamentary vice-presidents in the interim until Nahles is confirmed as leader at a party conference.

Under the prevailing statues of the SPD, the party's parliamentary vice-presidents are designated to take charge in the vacant period between the departure of an old and inauguration of a new party leader. The party's youth wing is already campaigning for a no-vote as it fears that another grand coalition with Mrs Merkel's conservatives will further erode the party's identity.

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Schulz is expected to take a seat on the SPD's backbenches.

In a cartoon published on Tuesday, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily showed Nahles with a whip riding an SPD snail.

Schulz has also been criticized by fellow SPD politician and current Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel for pursuing the post. Media have speculated that one option might be Katarina Barley, a former SPD general secretary and family minister, or SPD veteran Thomas Oppermann.

The SPD has agreed on a blueprint for coalition government with Ms Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and her Bavarian CSU allies. The former European Parliament president said last Wednesday that he planned to become Germany's next foreign minister - a risky move given that, after the election, he had explicitly ruled out entering Merkel's next cabinet.

The SPD has slid into disarray since its leaders struck the coalition deal last week, blighted by bitter divisions over whether to join the coalition, a loss of confidence in outgoing leader Martin Schulz and discontent over the succession process.

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