German Social Democrats gear up for crowded party leadership race

Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), on Monday released the final list of candidates vying for the centre-left party’s leadership, confirming a crowded field of eight pairs, along with a number of individual candidates.

Interim party leader, Manuela Schwesig, acknowledged the criticism that there were too many applicants for the SPD’s top job, saying that those wanting to be party leader have to show seriousness.

The most high-profile candidate is Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who would be campaigning alongside Klara Geywitz, a member of the state parliament of Brandenburg.

The SPD is in turmoil after a series of election losses, most recently on Sunday in the state of Saxony, where the party received only 7.7 per cent of the vote.

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This led to the resignation of the former leader, Andrea Nahles, after SPD took a huge hit in European elections in May.

SPD General Secretary, Lars Klingbeil, said he expected the candidates to discuss the main issues the country was expected to face in the future as they kick-off their campaigns in the coming weeks.

This, he said, should be the focus of SPD, rather than continuing debates on whether the party should remain in a ruling coalition with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

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“The candidates will travel across the country for a series of 23 regional conferences where they will present their ideas and plans.

“The first event will take place on Wednesday in the western city Saarbruecken.

“The new leaders are expected to be announced on Oct. 26, after the party members have cast their votes. The new leaders will officially be introduced in December, “ Klingbeil said.

Other candidates include: Norbert Walter-Borjans, a former Finance Minister in the state of North Rhine, Westphalia, along with lawmaker Saskia Esken, and Lower Saxony Interior Minister, Boris Pistorius, with Saxony Integration Minister, Petra Koepping.

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Meanwhile, Ralf Stegner, deputy SPD leader, and Gesine Schwan, Head of the party’s basic values committee, had also entered the race, as well as Minister of State for Europe,Michael Roth, alongside NRW member of parliament, Christina Kampmann.

Satirist Jan-Boehmermann had also applied to run, but said he had not been able to meet the conditions in time.

In a video released earlier, he said his team was looking into whether he could take legal steps to ensure his candidacy was accepted after all.(dpa/NAN)

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