Support is growing among Social Democrats for Martin Schulz, currently chairman of the European Union parliament, to be the party’s chancellor candidate in next year’s elections, weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported, citing sources.
Sigmar Gabriel, the 57-year old head of the Social Democrats and Vice Chancellor in Angela Merkel’s coalition government, has not yet decided whether he will run as a chancellor candidate for his party, but increasing numbers of party members are calling for a quick decision on who will run.
Germany will hold federal elections next year in fall, which will lead to a new cabinet and replace the current coalition of Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democrats and her junior partner, the Social Democrats. Chancellor Merkel has not yet decided whether she will run for a fourth term.
“As long as the CDU has not given clarity of who is going to run for chancellor, although it currently holds the position, the Social Democrats are under no pressure at all.”
“Across the whole party spectrum and all states, you hear more and more people saying, “please not Gabriel,” Der Spiegel quoted an influential representative as saying.
Mr. Schulz, 60, has to decide soon whether he will run again as candidate to head the European Parliament, the Social Democrats might decide as early as this month who will be the party’s chancellor candidate, Der Spiegel reported.
German citizens will choose new representatives for the Lower House and generally the head of the party which wins most seats becomes the new chancellor.
Mr. Gabriel, who is also the economics minister in Ms. Merkel’s government, responded unperturbedly on Friday “I, in any case, am very relaxed,” the politician was quoted as saying by Der Spiegel.
“As long as the CDU has not given clarity of who is going to run for chancellor, although it currently holds the position, the Social Democrats are under no pressure at all,” Mr. Gabriel was quoted as saying by news agency Reuters.
He also said it would be good for his party if its members could see the Social Democrats have more than one candidate who could succeed Ms. Merkel.
Der Spiegel also quoted a high-ranking Social Democrats official as saying: “We need a candidate who rocks, but doesn’t slip over his own shoes.”
Mr. Gabriel has been a member of the Social Democrats since 1977. He was state premier of Lower Saxony from 1999 to 2003 and has been a Lower House representative since 2005, and Economics Minister since December 2013.
Mr. Schulz joined the Social Democrats Party at the age of 19 and ran his own bookshop for 12 years until 1994, when he became a member of the European Parliament. He has chaired the E.U. body since 2012.