Chancellor Battle

Social Democrats Still Seeking an Identity

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The Social Democrats are meant to provide a proper challenge to chancellor Angela Merkel, but often focus too much on infighting.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • In addition to serving as chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Sigmar Gabriel is Germany’s vice-chancellor and economics minister.
    • He will step down as party chairman and take up the post of foreign minister, once Frank-Walter Steinmeier vacates the role to become German president.
    • Martin Schultz will lead the party and will run against Angela Merkel for chancellor at September’s general election.
  • Audio

    Audio

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German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel arrives for a cabinet meeting at the German government guesthouse Meseberg Palace, in Meseberg, Germany May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
Sigmar Gabriel will move into the foreign office and not challenge Merkel. Source: Reuters [M]

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.

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