Following German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s announcement last week that her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) had agreed to renew their coalition, the SPD descended into turmoil between its faction members over the role of their then-leader Martin Schulz. Schulz, who negotiated the coalition agreement and was due to take over as foreign minister, resigned on February 13.
While Schulz cited a desire to unify the party as the reason for his resignation, he only gave up his office after current Foreign Minister and former head of the SPD Sigmar Gabriel criticized his leadership and flip-flopping stances.
Schulz previously stated that the SPD would not join another Grand Coalition with the CDU before reneging on this promise. During negotiations, he also assured his party that he would not seek a role in the new government, but then arranged a deal to become Foreign Minister.
Prior to his resignation, Schulz stated that he wished to see former Minister of Labor and current SPD parliament faction chief Andrea Nahles become the leader of the SPD. However, SPD leadership appointed Hamburg Mayor and Finance Minister-designate Olaf Scholz as interim leader until a party convention on April 22. The party congress could be contentious, and several candidates have already emerged to challenge Nahles for the post. All in all, the developments within the SPD have only advanced the image of an unstable German government, which does not enhance the outlook for reform of the European Union.