Sigmar Gabriel, the pugnacious but unpopular head of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, said Tuesday he will not run as his party’s chancellor candidate against Angela Merkel in national elections this fall.
Mr. Gabriel’s announcement, which will shake up the German race, was made to weekly Die Zeit, a sister publication of Handelsblatt Global.
The 57-year-old Gabriel said he will relinquish his post as vice chancellor and head of the SPD, Germany’s second-largest party and the junior partner in Ms. Merkel’s coalition.
He plans to take on the job of German foreign minister, which will become vacant after its current holder, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, becomes president.
Mr. Gabriel’s surprise departure clears the way for Martin Schulz, the former president of the European Parliament who recently returned to Germany to resume a domestic political career, to take on Ms. Merkel.