Martin Schulz resigns as German SPD chief

Martin Schulz resigns as German SPD chief

As Germany's Social Democrat Party of Germany (SPD) heads into an unexpected period of transition after its former head Martin Schulz shocked many by stepping down at the weekend, the leadership of the party now appears to be in the hands of Andrea Nahles.

Speaking to Germany's Funke media group, Gabriel said he felt that while "in the eyes of the public I have clearly carried out my duties very well and successfully ..."

Seeking to restore order, Schulz resigned with immediate effect on Tuesday and party leaders installed Scholz as caretaker SPD chairman.

The coalition deal signed with Merkel's conservatives could be in jeopardy as the battle for the SPD leadership continues to play out.

The party leadership reversed course Tuesday and said they were nominating Nahles to run for election as chairwoman at a special party congress on April 22.

Schulz on Friday then gave up plans to become German foreign minister, hoping to shore up support among SPD members for the new coalition - but the manner in which he anointed Nahles as his successor rankled with many in the party.

The upheaval at the top of the SPD has distracted from party leaders' attempts to convince party members to agree to the coalition deal.

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Many party members were angered that Schulz would consider becoming foreign minister after he previously stated he would not serve in a government under Angela Merkel.

Ms Nahles was named by Mr Schulz as his chosen successor last week.

Andrea Nahles also said she would fight for the ruling coalition with the conservatives of Angela Merkel.

In a cartoon on Tuesday, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily showed Nahles with a whip riding an SPD snail. After fierce criticism from some former allies, Schulz ditched plans to take the post of foreign minister. Juso leader Kevin Kuehnert has expressed concerns that the SPD would be electorally marginalized during another term as junior partner to the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU), calling for the renewal of German social democracy in opposition.

Germany has been without a proper government since an inconclusive election last September, which saw Merkel's conservatives and the centre-left SPD both lose seats and a far-right party enter the Bundestag lower house for the first time.

The latest opinion poll of Insa has given the SPD just 16.5 percent of the vote.

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