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The embattled leader of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) abruptly gave up plans on Friday to become its next foreign minister, hoping to shore up support among SPD members for a new coalition with Angela Merkel's conservatives.

"I hereby renounce joining the federal government and at the same time implore that this should be an end to debates about personalities", Schulz said in a statement.

The move leaves the former European Parliament president empty-handed, after a disastrous year that saw him lead the SPD to its worst-ever score since World War II in September elections, with just 20.5 percent of the vote.

The deal Wednesday morning between the CDU and coalition partners, the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) ensures that Merkel, who has already served for more than 12 years, will get another term in office.

Senior SPD members also pressured their leader into dropping his demand to be the foreign minister as part of the grand coalition - or GroKro.

Schulz's surprise announcement on Friday came two days after he struck a deal with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc CDU/CSU to form a grand coalition government.


The new coalition will put the far-right Alternative for Germany, the third-largest party in the German parliament, known as the Bundestag, in the opposition.

Tensions are also reported between him and Sigmar Gabriel, an SPD colleague who is now foreign minister. But the final stretch appeared to be more about horse-trading on posts, with the SPD celebrating their advances within the cabinet. Its results will be announced on March 4.

"We shouldn't only talk about how we want to shape the next four years in Germany but also what the CDU will stand for in future, which topics we can win elections with in the next 10 years and people go along with topics", he said.

After the SPD's losses in the September 24 national election, Schulz announced that the SPD would go into coalition and that he wouldn't hold talks with Merkel.

Any agreement will be submitted to a ballot of the Social Democrats' members, a process that will take a few weeks.


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