German Social Democrats shake up leadership, focus on govt

Loetzsch says Merkel doesn’t have a

Amid a swift leadership transition, Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) sank further into chaos on Tuesday after the party agreed to a coalition deal with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.

On Sunday Merkel defended "painful" concessions she made to the SPD to win herself a fourth term as chancellor, and she said criticism among her conservatives was not a sign her authority was waning.

The SPD members in Berlin and Saxony-Anhalt who oppose handing the reins over to Nahles include Berlin's Governing Mayor Michael Müller, who said before a meeting of the SPD's top committees that his national association wants "the party's chairs elected through an orderly process of delegates at a federal party convention, rather than appointed".

He also said Andrea Nahles, the party's parliamentary leader, would take over as the SPD's chairwoman.

With many SPD rank and file harboring misgivings about sharing power with Merkel again, the result of the vote, due on March 4, is wide open.

An extraordinary party congress will be held on April 22 to pick a new leader, likely Nahles.

German's Social Democratic grass roots are in revolt and may veto a new government in their upcoming vote.

"Not only has a Bavarian politician passed the pinnacle of his career, but probably a woman from the north too", he added in a dig at Merkel and Horst Seehofer, leader of the arch-conservative Bavarian sister party (CSU) to Merkel's CDU.

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But the final stretch appeared to be more about horse-trading on posts, with the SPD celebrating their advances within the cabinet.

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An agreement was also signed between ONGC and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) on offshore oil concessions. The two countries are expected to sign as many 14 agreements and bilateral deals during the historic visit.

Under a grand coalition agreement, Olaf Scholz, the popular mayor of Hamburg, is set to take on the powerful role of finance minister.

In a cartoon published on Tuesday, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily showed Nahles with a whip riding an SPD snail.

Schulz's own plans were becoming a major distraction for the SPD.

Merkel annoyed members of her Christian Democrats (CDU) by agreeing in the coalition talks to cede the finance ministry to the SPD.

The development followed Schulz's announcement Friday that he was abandoning plans to become foreign minister in the new government.

The SPD originally wanted to reinvent itself in opposition but reconsidered when Merkel's attempt to form an alliance with two smaller parties failed late a year ago.

Under Schulz, a former European Parliament president who became SPD leader just over a year ago, the party garnered 20.5 percent in September's election, its worst result in the post-war era.

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