German social democrat leader unpopular with party supporters: poll

Two-thirds of German Social Democratic Party (SPD) supporters would like Andrea Nahles to resign as party leader, according to a survey conducted by the opinion research institute Civey published on Tuesday.

Supporters of the other German political parties were even more strongly opposed to Nahles, with 71 percent of Germans surveyed believing that the SPD leader should resign.

After Sunday’s elections, the question also arises as to how Germany’s governing grand coalition, consisting of CDU/CSU and SPD, should proceed. Leading SPD leftists have already set conditions for the continuation of cooperation with CDU and CSU.

During a program of the German broadcaster ZDF on Monday, Nahles announced that she would propose bringing forward to next week the elections for the leadership of the SPD parliamentary faction, which are not due until fall.

Nahles said she did “not think it makes sense to have personal debates now, but since this request has been made to me as group chairman, I will say let us create clarity.”

Bringing forward the SPD leadership vote would offer room for “those who believe that they want to go a different way should stand up and say, I am running for office,” stated Nahles.

The SPD leader was reacting to a letter from Michael Gross, SPD spokesperson for the Ruhr region, which called for clarity over “whether the parliamentary group stands behind its leader or not” following the “very regrettable and disastrous results” of the SPD in the European elections.

SPD Vice-Chairman Ralf Stegner posted on Twitter on Tuesday that there had been agreement in the party executive board “to discuss the necessary strategic political course quickly and not to put personnel disputes in the foreground.”

Nonetheless, Stegner welcomed the fact that Nahles was “now rightly ensuring a quick decision” about the future of the party’s leadership.

Lower Saxony’s Minister-President Stephan Weil told the German newspaper Bild that “we have no need for a personnel debate. This distracts from the really difficult questions, which essentially make us as a party fit for the future.”

First of all, the SPD’s program needed to be right and this was not only dependent on individuals, said Weil, adding “the SPD has a lot of experience with top management changes and it has not paid off in the past.”

Criticism of Nahles’ announcement came from Martin Schulz, SPD member of parliament, who told the German newspaper Die Zeit that “this election is scheduled for September”.

“The parliamentary group should be given the time to analyze the latest developments,” Schulz said.

The question as to whether Schulz himself would challenge Nahles “does not currently arise,” said the SPD politician. “We should keep calm and make the right decisions at the right time,” he noted.

Nahles indicated on Monday at a press conference that the party’s leadership would decide on consequences of the European elections early next week.

In a closed meeting, the SPD would discuss how to achieve “clearer positions” on topics such as climate change and labor, Nahles had announced.

As SPD leader, Nahles had been considered responsible for the party’s European election campaign and the social democrats’ historically poor result of 15.8 percent of the German vote