German Opposition Leader Quits

Party had tapped rival foreign minister to challenge Merkel
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2008 6:18 AM CDT
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Barack Obama walk towards the Foreign Ministry in Berlin.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The leader of Germany's Social Democrats has resigned after the party leaked that it had chosen another leader to face Angela Merkel in next year's general election, reports Der Spiegel. The party's candidate will be Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the current foreign minister in Merkel's grand coalition government. Kurt Beck, who has led the struggling SPD since her 2005 election victory, blamed "systematic misinformation" in the media for his decline in authority.

A senior party member told Der Spiegel that Beck, whose leadership was long in doubt, was resigning after a putsch inside the party. The SPD, which under Gerhard Schröder ruled Germany from 1998 to 2005, has seen its popularity plummet in recent years, and the creation of a new left-wing party has siphoned off votes. If an election were held today, Merkel would coast to victory.