Schulz to quit European Parliament as he eyes Bundestag seat

Martin Schulz will not seek another term as president of the European Parliament to seek a seat in Germany’s Bundestag at the country’s general elections next year

European Parliament president Martin Schulz
European Parliament president Martin Schulz

Martin Schulz, the head of the European Parliament, has announced he is quitting the post to seek a seat in the German Bundestag in next year’s election, fuelling speculation that he could enter the race to challenge Angela Merkel for the role of chancellor.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Schulz said that over the last months, there has been a lot of speculation in the press about his future and “I have now made that decision. I will not run for a third term as President of the European Parliament. Next year, I will run for the German Bundestag as the head of the SPD list in North Rhine-Westphalia.”

During a brief statement, where he declined to take questions from journalists, Schulz said he had strived to strengthen the European project during his time as an MEP and would continue to do the same from Berlin.

“It was not an easy decision, as it is an honour to be President of the European Parliament and I am very thankful for this opportunity. Throughout my time in the European Parliament whether as an MEP, as head of the Socialist Group or as President, I have strived to strengthen the credibility and visibility of European politics and the influence of the directly elected European Parliament.”

In Germany, he has been mooted as either a potential replacement for the foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is set to swap his current job for the presidency next February, or even the candidate to challenge Angela Merkel for the chancellorship at the elections in September 2017.

Sigmar Gabriel, currently deputy chancellor in Germany’s coalition government, and Hamburg mayor Olaf Scholz are seen as other potential challengers. The SDP plans to announce its candidate in late January.

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