Twenty hours after the celebration of the coalition agreement in which “we saw the Social Democrats’ hand,” Martin Schulz is grappling with an inner party revolt. Bundestag members reproached him for putting personal destiny before the future of the SPD — on the eve of the member referendum expected to occur at the end of the month. Some are asking him, in no uncertain terms, to take a step back. Others who were silent at first are now speaking out.
Everything has been behind closed doors, but their passive voices are crossing the threshold even of normal political debate. Now the disagreements are in the public domain, thanks to revelations in the press, such as the list of SPD ministers, in which vice-chancellor Olaf Scholz stands to be the new finance minister. This historic news is likely to pass quietly, but if Schulz passes the SPD secretariat to Andrea Nahles, a woman will lead the German socialist party for the first time in its 153-year history.
The private meeting of the SPD parliamentary group on Wednesday — “intercepted” by Die Welt — restores the likelihood of Schulz as foreign minister. There was no divergence with the CDU in the meeting that is critical to the ambitions of the secretary. The party leader in Saxony, Martin Dulig, said, “I ask you, Martin, to reconsider your role in the government.” Many members of Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Hesse had never been heard before, not counting the disobedient Young Socialists already in Groko. This is why the succession has already started.