Leadership row drags Germany's SPD into new crisis after coalition deal

Julia Klockner

GETTYJulia Klockner stood by Angela Merkel after last year's disastrous election

Martin Schulz has resigned as the head of Germany's Social Democrats, Deutsche Welle reports.

On Sunday Merkel defended "painful" concessions she made to the SPD to win herself a fourth term as chancellor, and she said criticism among her conservatives was not a sign her authority was waning.

"It's a hard job at times, but I retire without bitterness and resentment", Schulz was quoted by German media Focus Online as saying. His resignation went into effect immediately. SPD members will vote on the coalition deal next month - the result is expected on 4 March.

The change is a hope by the party's leadership committee to contain the bitter infighting which has continued despite Schulz's resignation from the role as SPD leader, as well as his more recent surrender of the prospective post as foreign minister in a new "grand coalition", referring the coalition between SPD and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Conservatives Union. If members reject the coalition pact, a new German election looks the most likely option. Her candidacy will be voted on by party members on April 22.

"There is no constitutional basis for such a move in our statues", Baumann-Hasske noted, adding that it would hence be impossible for Nahles to make "significant decisions" including with regards to party finances.

Israel goes mad after Syria shoots down its F-16
Shlomo Mishal, 55, from Beit Shean in northern Israel , said that he was woken by the sirens at around 4:30 a.m. Iran has denied this, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahran Qasemi calling the claim "ridiculous".

Austria's David Gleirscher wins shocking gold in men's singles luge
It's no surprise, Mazdzer's second run was the fastest in that heat demonstrating he was capable of medaling. Austria's David Gleirscher struggled to make the Olympic team, but is now the men's luge gold medalist.

Sex abuse scandal in Haiti causes UK to review Oxfam ties
A spokesperson for Oxfam said the organisation was deeply shocked by the new allegations, admitting the problem was "sector-wide". It said one of the instances was "a case of failings in adequate safeguarding", which was reported to the Charity Commission.

Schulz's other announcement Friday - that Andrea Nahles, the party's parliamentary leader, would take over as the Social Democrats' chairwoman - also gave rise to a chorus of concerns. "End the lack of discipline in the SPD!" one of the party's deputy leaders, Ralf Stegner, told the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung.

That leaves open who from within the SPD may take up that post.

Under Schulz, a former European Parliament president who became SPD leader just over a year ago, the party garnered 20.5 percent in September's election, its worst result in the post-war era. The far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) entered the Bundestag for the first time.

Scholz played up the SPD's achievements in coalition negotiations with Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and her Bavarian allies, at which the centre-left party won the powerful finance ministry to the frustration of many in the CDU.

The SPD originally wanted to reinvent itself in opposition but reconsidered when Merkel's attempt to form an alliance with two smaller parties failed late past year.

Latest News