09.02.2018 | Martin Schulz quits as SPD leader after he refuses Merkel's coalition job
Source - The Daily Express
The shock decision comes after senior members of Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) pressured their leader in to waiving the post of foreign minister as part of the grand coalition.
It comes just days after Angela Merkel's conservatives and the SPD agreed to form a coalition government on Wednesday.
But SPD members have the right to veto the deal and reportedly withdrew their confidence in the leader, according to Bild.
In a statement, Mr Schulz said he believed that debate within the SPD risked jeopardising a 'yes' vote among members on whether the party should go ahead with a coalition deal with Mrs Merkel.
He added: "I hereby declare my renunciation of joining the federal government and at the same time sincerely hope that this will end the personal debates within the SPD.
"We all create policies for the people of this country. This includes that my personal ambitions must take a backseat behind the interests of the party."
But he said the coalition deal he had reached with Mrs Merkel could "improve people's lives".
He said: "The coalition agreement that I have negotiated together with the SPD party leadership stands out in that it can improve people's lives in many areas.
"I have always stressed that if we enter a coalition, we will only do so if our social democratic demands for education, care, pensions, work and taxation find their way into this treaty.
"I am proud to say that this is the case. In particular, the reorientation of European policy is a great success. It is all the more important for me that the members of the SPD vote in favour of this agreement because they are as convinced of its content as I am.
"Due to the discussion about my person, however, I see the success of this vote at risk."
Mr Schulz has previously said he would not take a job in a government led by Mrs Merkel before he took the helm at the foreign ministry - a move for which he was widely criticised.
His announcement upset the incumbent, Sigmar Gabriel, who bemoaned the "lack of respect" his labours had received.
Angela Merkel faced an uphill struggle to maintain power for another four years following a disastrous election.
But a grand coalition with the SPD was a last-ditch attempt to claw back power.
SPD members will vote on the final coalition deal between February 20 and March 2.