Germany's Social Democrats elect new leader

15th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

The SDP had been in coalition with current Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats until the election, which their luckless candidate for chancellor, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, called a "bitter defeat."

Berlin -- Germany's Social Democrat Party (SPD), the biggest losers in September's election, elected former environment minister Sigmar Gabriel as its new chairman on Friday.

Around 94 percent of delegates attending the party's conference in Dresden chose Gabriel, 50, as the SPD's fifth chairman in five years and tasked with resolving deep internal divisions between centrist reformers and leftists.

Gabriel asked for a "trust deposit" to "succeed in a new beginning together," and called for an end to internal differences after his party achieved its worst post-war election score in the September 27 vote.

The SDP had been in coalition with current Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats until the election, which their luckless candidate for chancellor, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, called a "bitter defeat."

The result relegated the SPD, Germany's oldest party, to the opposition for the first time in 11 years, having governed under ex-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder between 1998 and 2005 and with Merkel in a grand coalition since.

While SDP delegates on Friday spent hours debating the party's lack of electoral success, Gabriel said it was important not to deny the party's achievements over the last few years.

The party's new deputy leader will be Andrea Nahles, from the party's left-wing.

AFP/Expatica

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