A member of the German Social Democrats in Angela Merkel’s governing coalition has resigned sparking chaos after gaining poor results in the European elections last week.
Centre-left leader Andrea Nahles said in her resignation statement on Sunday that the “necessary support” for her to carry out her duties “isn’t there anymore”, raising questions as to whether Merkel’s government will survive.
Her resignation comes after the Social Democrats had their worst performance in its 156-year history gaining only 15.8 per cent of the vote in European elections.
And in a poll on Saturday, the Christian Democrat Union party also reflected a lack in popularity as for the first time, the German Greens had overtaken Merkel’s conservative collective by one point at 27 per cent.
The poll asked voters who they would back in a national election with the SPD amounting just 12 per cent support.
Only becoming the leader of the SPD last year, Nahles said: “I took over the leadership of the party and parliamentary group in difficult times. We decided to take on the responsibility for our country as part of the federal government. At the same time, we were working to restore our party and to convince citizens with new positions.
“To do both at the same time is a great challenge for all of us. To meet us we need full mutual support. Whether I have this support has been questioned repeatedly and publicly in recent weeks… I no longer have the necessary support to exercise my functions,” she added.
In the hope not to initiate fresh elections, Merkel’s CDU party has already called for its ‘grand coalition’ with the SPD to continue as opinion polls suggested the Greens may, in fact, take the top spot from the conservatives if a new national election is triggered.
But with the partnership being rocky since it began in 2017, critics and members of the Social Democrats are calling on the party to ditch the coalition in the hope they will regain popularity among voters as an opposition against the CDU.
Germany’s vice-chancellor and SPD colleague Olaf Scholz said he regretted Nahles’ decision to step down but that she deserved respect for doing so, telling the New York Times his party had not just been in difficulty since the European elections.
He added: “That’s why it’s important we stick together and jointly take the next step.”
However on Sunday, before Nahles announced her resignation, Scholz told the Tagesspiegel newspaper he had “ruled out” entering another coalition.
Scholz said: “Three coalitions in a row would not do democracy in Germany any good,”.
Despite not sitting popular among large parts of the SPD – particularly the left – he still has a good chance of claiming his party’s leadership, after already serving as interim chief last year.