Schulz Abruptly Drops Bid to Be Merkel's Next Foreign Minister

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Under the terms of the deal struck between Merkel and Schulz earlier this week, the SPD will keep the foreign ministry it held in the last government and also take over the finance ministry from the CDU.

The leader of Germany's Social Democrats has given up his ambition to be foreign minister, days after agreeing to form a coalition with Angela Merkel.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and Germany's main center-left party are still haggling over a deal to form a new coalition government after negotiations that lasted through the night.

The disarray within the party risks upending a ballot by the SPD's more than 460,000 members on whether to approve the coalition agreement, which would open the way for Merkel to be sworn in as chancellor more than four months after the election.

"I hereby declare my renunciation of joining the federal government and at the same time sincerely hope that this will end the personnel debates within the SPD", he said.

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Many young and leftist members are against the renewed so-called Grand Coalition between the SPD and the Union.

The result of the SPD vote is expected to be announced on 4 March, with CDU delegates also getting a chance to vote on the coalition deal at a party congress on 24 February. A party meeting in January narrowly approved talks with Merkel's Christian Democratic-led bloc, laying bare the divisions.

"I know it wasn't an easy decision for him", Nahles told reporters in her home village of Weiler in western Germany, saying Schulz deserved respect and recognition for stepping aside so as not to jeopardise the party vote on the coalition. He was then accused of flip-flopping, when he announced on Wednesday that he would cede the party chairmanship to succeed Sigmar Gabriel as foreign minister. But the final stretch appeared to be more about horse-trading on posts, with the SPD celebrating their advances within the cabinet.

If a deal emerges, it won't bring an immediate end to the political limbo following Germany's September 24 election.

The SPD's traditional left-wing youth organization, Jusos, have opposed a coalition government with the Christian Democrats, and called for reform within the party.