Germany’s center-left Social Democratic Party is known for unerringly bringing down its own people and not its political adversaries.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Peer Steinbrück suffered this bitter experience in the last two parliamentary elections, when their campaigns were harmed by ongoing attacks from within their own ranks. As a result, the party put in its worst performances in the post-war era.
Sigmar Gabriel, the party’s 15th chairman, didn’t want the pattern to repeat itself. He pulled the plug even before his own campaign could begin. In interviews with German magazine Stern and newsweekly Die Zeit, Mr. Gabriel announced that he was not running for the chancellorship, and explained why he was stepping down as party chairman.