Germany’s Social Democrats have named Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier as their candidate to run against Chancellor Angela Merkel in next year’s elections. They hope he will be the leader to revive the divided party.
He told reporters: “We’re in a better position than everyone’s saying. We’re going to focus on our strengths. I can assure you that I’ve not stepped forward to take second place. We’re going to fight together so that in a year’s time we’ll have new Social Democrat government in Germany.”
The announcement came after a high level party meeting to discuss election strategy. In a surprise move Kurt Beck also said he was stepping down as SPD chairman. His place is to be taken by Franz Muenterfering, who is returning after a break from politics.
The decisions are an attempt to unite the party, which rules in an uneasy coalition with Merkel’s conservatives, and mark a return to a reformist agenda. The Social Democrats, undermined by the rise of a new left party, are divided over which direction to take.