Schulz Stepping Down as SPD Leader Unlikely to Impact German Politics – Lawmaker

Schulz Stepping Down as SPD Leader Unlikely to Impact German Politics – Lawmaker
AP Photo/ Michael SohnEurope13:07 19.02.2018(updated 13:11 19.02.2018) Get short URL



MUNICH (Sputnik) – Martin Schulz’s resignation as leader of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) will unlikely have a major effect on German politics or the formation of the coalition government, Gerold Otten, a member of the German Bundestag’s defense committee from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, told Sputnik.

“He [Schulz] was not part of this system, he was not involved in the political structure of the party. So I don’t think this [Schulz stepping down as SPD leader] to have any effect on the Party and on the government,” Otten said.

Schulz stepped down with immediate effect on Tuesday with the hope of putting an end to the turbulence that has rocked the center-left party since it agreed on a coalition deal with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives. 

Next day, Merkel said that her Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) alliance had concluded the talks on forming a coalition government with the SPD.

READ MORE: She’s a Lady: Who May Become Next SPD Leader After Schulz

On Friday, a poll revealed that support for the SPD had dropped to a record low of 16 percent amid the party’s political crisis, putting the party’s rating just one percent ahead of the right-wing AfD. The same day, Schulz turned down the post of foreign minister in the country’s new coalition government, saying that the interests of his party would always be a priority for him.

On Germany’s Defense Budget

The cost of Germany’s proposed increase to the country’s defense spending is just a required minimum to keep the current level, and can be compared to “a drop of water,” Gerold Otten noted.

“I think this is just a minimum of what they need to do just to maintain and keep up the level. I don’t see it as big change in defense spending,” Otten said on the sidelines of the MSC.

He stressed that in contrast, the French Defense Ministry had planned to allocate up to 300 billion euros ($372 billion) until 2025.

“And what we see here [in Germany] is like a drop of water on a hot stone,” Otten stressed.

At the 54th Munich Security Conference (MSC) on Friday, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said that Germany would allocate additional funds to defense and development over the next four years. According to media reports, Von der Leyen said that Germany’s military spending would reach 39.2 billion euros ($48.6 billion) by 2020.

REAd MORE: Germany Poses No Threat to Russia Despite Its Increasing NATO Clout — Analyst

The same day, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised Germany’s role in the military alliance but said that the country should increase its military spending.

In 2017, only six of the 29 NATO members — the United States, Greece, Estonia, the United Kingdom, Romania and Poland — spent 2 percent of their GDP on defense, according to the NATO’s June 29 defense spending report.