Germany: Martin Schulz officially nominated as chancellor candidate

Germany: Martin Schulz officially nominated as chancellor candidate In Germany Martin Schulz has won the nomination as Social Democratic party chairman and chancellor candidate for this year's election, Deutsche Welle reported on Sunday.

The mood was euphoric among SPD delegates at a special conference in Berlin as the party made the transition from former party chairman Sigmar Gabriel to Martin Schulz official. Schulz was elected unanimously, receiving all of the valid ballots for chancellor candidate and party chairman.

"I think this result is the first step toward retaking the chancellor's office," a grateful Schulz said after the announcement.

The selection of the former European Parliament president marks the first time an SPD chancellor candidate has ever been nominated with 100 percent of the vote.

In a speech before his election, Schulz emphasised the issues of social equality that have energised the grassroots and seen the SPD draw level in opinion polls with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU-CSU.

"The SPD are back," Schulz said.

"And that's good news for the people of Germany and Europe. If we don't ensure that things are socially equitable, then no one will," he added.

Schulz and other speakers repeatedly mentioned the trade unions, a traditional base of Social Democratic support. But Schulz, who served as president of the European Parliament until just two months ago, vigorously defended his party's support for the European Union.

"Those who want to do away with this bloc will find in me an energetic opponent. Anyone who thinks you can separate national interests from Europe is wasting away the future of Germany," Schulz said.

Schulz also took potshots at U.S. President Donald Trump, saying that an election like that in the United States featuring "fake news” and the "denigration of whole groups of the population" had "no place in Germany."

"A German chancellor can take a clear negative position" toward the US, Schulz added later in his speech, after praising former SPD chancellor Gerhard Schröder's refusal to back the U.S.-led war in Iraq in 2003.

Schulz has been credited with revitalising the election by giving voters a mainstream option to Merkel and with taking support away from the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Still, the SPD will decide upon an official platform for September's national election at a full party convention in June.
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