News & Current Affairs

September 8, 2008

German FM to run for chancellor

German FM to run for chancellor

Frank-Walter Steinmeier - 7/9/2008

Opinion polls indicate the SPD are lagging far behind their CDU rivals

Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) have chosen Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier as candidate for chancellor in next year’s federal election.

The choice means he will run against the current chancellor, Angela Merkel, of the Christian Democrats (CDU).

Mr Steinmeier is the foreign minister and vice-chancellor in the “grand coalition” of the SPD and CDU in Ms Merkel’s government.

Polls indicate the SPD is far behind the CDU in voter opinion.

The SPD has lost support in recent years to the Left Party, made up of defectors from the SPD and communists from the former East Germany.

In a party shake-up, former SPD chairman Franz Muentefering was chosen by party officials to resume the role after Kurt Beck announced his resignation.

“The party needs strong leadership and a strong centre and I believe that today’s decision sets the course for this,” Mr Steinmeier said after the party’s meeting.

He served as chief of staff in Gerhard Schroeder’s ruling coalition with the Greens from 1998-2005.

After the 2005 elections left neither the CDU nor the SPD with enough votes to form a government, he became foreign minister in the coalition the two parties formed.

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