Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) have nominated Martin Schulz as their chairman and chancellor candidate for the country’s next elections.
The former European Parliament president was unanimously chosen by the party’s executive committee on Sunday (29 January) to run against Chancellor Angela Merkel of the centre-right CDU at the next general polls on 24 September.
Accepting the nomination in front of party supporters at the party’s headquarters in Berlin, Schulz declared:
“Social democracy is about being fair to each other, hand in hand, side by side. In order to have the best for our country, we are seeking practical solutions for people. What a big difference that is to the conservatives’ nonstop, tiring arguments.’‘
Schulz picked the nomination ticket following incumbent party leader Sigmar Gabriel’s decision to stand aside, saying the 61-year-old former European parliamentarian had “a better chance” to unseat Merkel.
Setting the tone for his campaign for an election at which the anti-migrant AfD party is set to become the third-largest party, Schulz has vowed to fight against the easy answers of populists.
“With me, there will be no Europe bashing. There will be no hounding of minorities,” he said.
Schulz will be confirmed as party chairman and chancellor candidate as a special conference in March.
The SPD wants to form a coalition with smaller parties on the left.
However, Schulz will face an uphill task to beat Merkel, whose conservative CDU/CSU block alliance is well ahead of the SPD, according to opinion polls.