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Martin Schulz exits coalition in bid to stave off revolt
July 20 2018, 06:48 | Alonzo Simpson
Chancellor Angela Merkel and SPD's candidate Martin Schulz
The job is now held by Sigmar Gabriel, who handed the party leadership to Mr Schulz a year ago and has become one of Germany's most popular politicians since taking on the role of foreign minister.
Chancellor Angela Merkel receives Valentine's Day flowers from the Central Gardening Association at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, February 9, 2018.
Paul Ziemiak, leader of the youth sing of the CDU and Christian Social Union (CSU) said the party needed to think about who would take over from Merkel, now on the bring of a fourth term.
Mr Schulz, facing criticism inside the SPD, said he did not want debate about his role to jeopardise a new coalition.
Martin Schulz was attempting to placate mounting anger in the center-left SPD about his leadership and boost the likelihood that the party's roughly 470,000 members would endorse the alliance struck this week with Ms. Merkel's conservatives.
Mr Schulz said the success of the membership ballot was endangered by the discussion about his future, "so I am hereby declaring that I will not enter the government and fervently hope that this ends the personnel debates inside the Social Democratic Party".
Discontent runs so deep that her party colleagues are even starting to talk about who should ultimately replace her.
The move defuses a crisis that was threatening to rip the SPD apart ahead of a vote on whether to approve the coalition agreement that was clinched by the party this week with the conservative CDU/CSU bloc.
Ms Merkel made heavy concessions to the Social Democrats (SPD) after breaking more than four months of political deadlock to agree to form a coalition government - including handing over the powerhouse Finance Ministry.
Disgruntlement among the SPD's base seemed to have spread to Merkel's CDU, where delegates were openly airing their frustration about the coalition deal.
Schulz's choice to step aside "deserves the highest respect and recognition", said Andrea Nahles, his likely successor as party chair.
Talking to reporters after marathon overnight talks that produced the final agreement Wednesday, Merkel said that the agreement will help keep Germany's economy strong and guide the country into the future. Elected as leader of his party with 100% of the vote in January 2017, early polls suggested he could unseat the chancellor in the election in September.
Analysts predict there is little chance they will block it - although the gathering will show off just how much Merkel's star has faded among a base that has always been loyal to the hilt.
Senior figures of Social Democratic Party (SPD), including the current Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, have publicly criticized Schulz and accused him of not keeping his promises.