German SPD leader Schulz gives up on plan to become foreign minister

German Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz confirmed on Friday he would not take up the position of foreign minister or serve in the next government, seeking to end a party row over his role and shore up members" support for a new "grand coalition'.

Having ruled out entering a Merkel-led coalition government in the immediate aftermath of the election, Schulz made a U-turn after the chancellor's attempt to build an unorthodox coalition with the pro-business Free Democratic party and the Green party collapsed.

"I hereby forgo joining the federal government", Schulz announced, adding, "at the same time, I sincerely hope that this will end the personnel debates within the SPD".

Schulz said, growing debate surrounding his bid for Foreign Ministry portfolio, could jeopardize the upcoming vote of SPD members on the coalition agreement.

The pitch is created to appeal to his party's 464,000 members before they vote on the deal, which is the final hurdle the SPD needs to pass before the government can be formed. For good measure, he has also been forced to stick to his promise to give up the party leadership.

Discontent runs so deep that her party colleagues are even starting to talk about who should ultimately replace her. Schulz had said shortly after the election last September that he wouldn't join another grand coalition, insisting the party would instead now "renew itself" in opposition.

On Wednesday, Schulz had announced his intention to hand over the reins to the former labour minister Andrea Nahles, who would become the SPD's first female leader in the party's 155-year history.

Merkel is often described as Europe’s most powerful woman
Merkel is often described as Europe’s most powerful woman

A deal to govern with Chancellor Merkel's conservatives still has to be endorsed by SPD members.

In November, German agriculture minister Christian Schmidt caused global controversy and a major row in Germany's government by unexpectedly backing a European Commission proposal to permit use of glyphosate for the next five years.

Schulz's decision came after Gabriel complained to the Funke newspaper group about "disrespectful" behavior in the party.

For the SPD, the backbiting went public when Gabriel, Germany's acting foreign minister, attacked the leadership for planning to remove him from his post - and implying that he'd been promised that he could continue as the country's top diplomat.

Schulz was Merkel's defeated challenger in September.

The draft, published on Wednesday on the homepage of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party, did not indicate a schedule for ending glyphosate use.

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