Leader of Merkel’s SPD Coalition Ally Faces Pressure to Resign

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01 juni 2019, 17.51

(Bloomberg) -- Andrea Nahles, the chairwoman of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Social Democrat coalition partner, faces pressure to step down before a vote next week that could cost her the leadership of the party’s caucus in the national parliament, several German newspapers reported.

After losses in the May European election that shrunk the SPD to Germany’s third-biggest party behind Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led block and the Greens, lawmakers from Hesse state said they won’t back their caucus chief in the surprise vote of confidence called by Nahles for Tuesday, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said.

“I like Andrea, but we need a new solution,” the newspaper quoted Ulli Nissen, an SPD lawmaker from Frankfurt, as saying. “I would be happy if Andrea would withdraw her application on her own.”

Losses by the SPD in the May 26 European election and in German regional and local ballots held the same day are adding to turmoil that’s thrown doubt on the leadership of Germany’s oldest party, and risks destabilizing Merkel’s ruling coalition. It’s also adding to political uncertainty in Europe’s biggest economy at a time when Merkel is questioning whether her heir apparent is up to the job.

New Beginning

“I don’t see a majority for Andrea Nahles” in the caucus vote, SPD lawmaker and economic policy spokesman Bernd Westphal told Rheinische Post. “I hear that from many SPD members of parliament, but also from the party base, who demand a new beginning without Andrea Nahles.”

There’s strong pressure from the party base to oust Nahles from her caucus and party leadership roles, the newspaper said, adding that Achim Post, who chairs the powerful group of lawmakers from North Rhine-Westphalia state, has been tipped to replace her as parliamentary group leader.

A defeat for Nahles is not a done deal though. SPD veteran Wolfgang Thierse, a former Bundestag president, told the Tagesspiegel newspaper the party should refrain from hurting itself even more by kicking out the only female leader it has had after just one year. Thomas Oppermann, who led the SPD caucus before Nahles, said ousting her was “not a smart idea,” Spiegel reported.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rainer Buergin in Berlin at rbuergin1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Erhard Krasny at ekrasny@bloomberg.net, Cecile Gutscher, James Amott

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