Gerhard Schroeder has renounced his claim to remain chancellor, saying he won't “stand in the way” of a stable government between his Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
“I don't want to stand in the way of the development of the reform process or a stable government in Germany,” Schroeder, 61, told German news broadcaster N-TV in an interview before a meeting of his party's steering committee in Berlin.
Schroeder said it's the Social Democrats' claim to remain Germany's ruling party, not his personal ambition to win a third term, that will matter in talks with the opposition Christian Democratic Union on forming a possible “grand coalition.”
After the Sept. 18 election failed to produce a decisive winner, Schroeder and opposition leader Angela Merkel, 51, both insisted on the right to form the new government. They will hold a third set of talks on Oct. 5, with the latest provisional results showing Merkel and her allies holding a four-seat lead in parliament over the SPD, reports Bloomberg.
According to Reuters, his refusal to step aside since his party finished a close second to Angela Merkel's conservatives in the September 18 vote, has been one of the chief hurdles to the formation of a coalition government.
“It is not about my claim and definitely not about me," Schroeder said.
"It is about my party's claim to the political leadership and that can only be decided by the party's executive. I will accept every decision that it makes.
"I will not stand in the way of anything that would lead to a continuation of the reform processes that I started, and a stable government in Germany."
CDU and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), won 226 parliament seats compared to 222 for the SPD, leaving each side well short of a majority on its own.
That has forced the rivals into exploratory talks on together forming a so-called "grand coalition."
Discussions last week went well and another round of informal talks is scheduled for Wednesday, but Schroeder's claim to the chancellery remains an obstacle.
Photo: the AP P.T.