Never before in the post-war history of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) has a candidate received as much support as Martin Schulz did on Sunday.
Of the 605 votes cast, not a single Social Democrat broke rank. Mr. Schulz was unanimously elected both party leader and chancellor candidate in a resounding display of unity as general elections approach in September.
“I believe this result is the prelude to the conquest of the federal chancellery,” Mr. Schulz said at the SPD’s party convention in Berlin.
Mr. Schulz has sought to parlay his small-town roots into his campaign for chancellor and position himself as a champion of everyday Germans.
Mr. Schulz has electrified the election campaign in German, boosting the Social Democrats’ poll numbers and giving the party a fighting chance at unseating incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel for the first time in years.
Mr. Schulz will take over the reigns of the party leadership from Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who had previously expressed interest in running for chancellor, but ultimately stepped aside to make way for his more popular colleague.
Mr. Schulz has never held national political office in Germany. He spent most of his political career in Brussels, where he served as a European parliamentarian and rose to become an influential figure in the European Union as president of the European Parliament.
Before heading off to Brussels, he was the mayor of Würselen, a small city outside of Aachen near the borders of Belgium and the Netherlands.
Spencer Kimball is an editor with Handelsblatt Global. To contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org.