WILL SCHULZ SACRIFICE THIRD TERM FOR SHOT AT MERKEL’S JOB?
Could Martin Schulz be tempted to risk the prospects of a third term as European Parliament president for a shot at being German chancellor?
The German rumour-mill is grinding louder and louder ahead of next year’s elections. Spiegel reported that many of the party faithful want anyone but the current Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. They think only Schulz has the profile to get them close to the magic 30% threshold needed to stand a chance of stealing Merkel’s crown.
If Schulz stands it will be a slap in the face of his old pal Jean-Claude Juncker. In August, Juncker said it was important Schulz stayed in the job to give Europe some much-needed “stability”.
That ruffled feathers among the centre-right parties in the European Parliament, who backed Schulz on the understanding they would get the presidency in 2017.
Scurrilous rumours abound that Juncker, Schulz, and European Council President Donald Tusk all agreed to support each other’s candidacies at a cosy dinner at the Vatican in May. They were there to drop off the Charlemagne Prize for being a good European with the Pope, who comes from Argentina.
Tusk’s tenure is up for grabs in July 2017. He is under pressure after the Polish government withdrew its support for him. Even though the new Polish government is seen as a bunch of nutjobs by many in Brussels, Tusk is not universally popular.
All this chummy bonhomie and backrubbing could be thrown into the blender if Schulz swans off to Berlin.
There is absolutely no guarantee that Schulz will win the election even if he stands. Merkel’s CDU, although weakened by the refugee crisis, is still stronger than the SPD and, well, this is Merkel we are talking about.
But even if he loses, Schulz could always come back to Brussels and become European Parliament president again.
Just like he did after losing the “election campaign” to be Commission chief in 2014.
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