Martin Schulz

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Martin Schulz
2017-09-14 Martin Schulz SPD 9489.jpg
Leader of the Social Democratic Party
In office
19 March 2017 13 February 2018
General Secretary Hubertus Heil (Acting)
Lars Klingbeil
Deputy
Preceded by Sigmar Gabriel
Succeeded by Olaf Scholz (Acting)
President of the European Parliament
In office
17 January 2012 17 January 2017
Vice President Gianni Pittella
Antonio Tajani
Preceded by Jerzy Buzek
Succeeded by Antonio Tajani
Leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
In office
18 June 2014 1 July 2014
Acting
Preceded by Hannes Swoboda
Succeeded by Gianni Pittella
In office
5 July 2004 17 January 2012
Preceded by Enrique Barón Crespo
Succeeded by Hannes Swoboda
Member of the Bundestag
for North Rhine-Westphalia
Assumed office
24 September 2017
Preceded by Peer Steinbrück
Member of the European Parliament
In office
19 July 1994 19 February 2017
Affiliation S&D
Constituency Germany
Personal details
Born (1955-12-20) 20 December 1955 (age 63)
Hehlrath, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany
Political party Social Democratic Party
Spouse(s)
Inge Schulz(m. 1992)
Children2
Signature Martin Schulz Unterschrift.svg
Website Official website

Martin Schulz (born 20 December 1955) [1] is a German politician who served as Leader of the Social Democratic Party 2017 to 2018, and has served as a Member of the Bundestag (MdB) since 2017. Previously he was President of the European Parliament from 2012 to 2017, Leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats from 2004 to 2012 and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Germany from 1994 to 2017. [2]

Social Democratic Party of Germany Social-democratic political party in Germany

The Social Democratic Party of Germany, is a social-democratic political party in Germany.

Bundestag Federal parliament of Germany

The Bundestag is the German federal parliament. It can be compared to the chamber of deputies along the lines of the United States House of Representatives or the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Through the Bundesrat, a separate institution, the individual states of Germany participate in legislation similar to a second house in a bicameral parliament.

President of the European Parliament position

The President of the European Parliament presides over the debates and activities of the European Parliament. They also represent the Parliament within the EU and internationally. The president's signature is required for enacting most EU laws and the EU budget.

Contents

In November 2016, Schulz announced he would not seek a third term as President of the European Parliament, but instead would stand in 2017 as the SPD candidate for the German Chancellorship. In January 2017, Sigmar Gabriel announced he would not stand for re-election as party leader and as the SPD candidate for the German Chancellorship, Gabriel recommended Schulz as his replacement. [3]

Chancellor of Germany Head of government of Germany

The title Chancellor has designated different offices in the history of Germany. It is currently used for the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, the head of government of Germany.

Sigmar Gabriel German politician (SPD)

Sigmar Hartmut Gabriel is a German politician who was Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2017 to 2018 and Vice-Chancellor of Germany from 2013 to 2018. He was Leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) from 2009 to 2017, which made him the party's longest-serving leader since Willy Brandt. He was the Federal Minister of the Environment from 2005 to 2009 and the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy from 2013 to 2017. From 1999 to 2003 Gabriel was Prime Minister of Lower Saxony.

After the elections of 2017, which resulted in a postwar low for the SPD, Schulz declared the end of the Grand coalition under Angela Merkel and explicitly refused to serve in a Merkel government. On 7 February 2018, coalition talks concluded and Schulz announced he would succeed Sigmar Gabriel as Foreign minister and leave his party chairmanship to Andrea Nahles. After heavy public and internal criticism, Schulz decided not to enter the new cabinet. On 13 February Schulz stepped down as party chair.

Early life

Martin Schulz was born in the village of Hehlrath, which is now a part of Eschweiler [1] in western Rhineland, near the Dutch and Belgian borders, as one of five children. His father, Albert Schulz, was a local policeman and belonged to a social democratic family; his mother, Clara, belonged to a conservative Catholic family and was active in the Christian Democratic Union. Having grown up in the border area between Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, Schulz has relatives in all three countries. [4]

Eschweiler Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Eschweiler is a municipality in the district of Aachen in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany on the river Inde, near the German-Belgian-Dutch frontier, and about 15 kilometres (9 mi) east of Aachen and 50 kilometres (31 mi) west of Cologne.

Belgium Federal constitutional monarchy in Western Europe

Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,688 km2 (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège.

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba—it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.

After four years at primary school, from 1962 to 1966, Schulz attended the Heilig-Geist (Holy Spirit) gymnasium, a private Roman Catholic school run by the Holy Ghost Fathers (or Spiritans), [5] in Broich (now Würselen), a district of the town of Broichweiden, for nine years. [6] As a teenager, he went to France on a school exchange programme. [1] He left school without passing his Abitur after failing the 11th grade twice. [7]

<i>Gymnasium</i> (Germany) secondary school

Gymnasium, in the German education system, is the most advanced of the three types of German secondary schools, the others being Realschule and Hauptschule. Gymnasium strongly emphasizes academic learning, comparable to the British grammar school system or with prep schools in the United States. A student attending Gymnasium is called a Gymnasiast. In 2009/10 there were 3,094 gymnasia in Germany, with c. 2,475,000 students, resulting in an average student number of 800 students per school.

Würselen Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Würselen is a town in the borough of Aachen, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

Abitur is a qualification granted by university-preparatory schools in Germany, Lithuania, and Estonia. It is conferred on students who pass their final exams at the end of their secondary education, usually after twelve or thirteen years of schooling. In German, the term Abitur has roots in the archaic word Abiturium, which in turn was derived from the Latin abiturus.

From 1975 to 1977 Schulz then trained to be a bookseller. [8] The next two years he worked for a number of publishing houses and bookshops. Schulz suffered from alcoholism and tried to commit suicide on 26 June 1980. After a successful rehab Schulz opened his own bookshop in Würselen in 1982. [7]

Alcoholism Broad term for problems with alcohol

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a broad term for any drinking of alcohol that results in mental or physical health problems. The disorder was previously divided into two types: alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. In a medical context, alcoholism is said to exist when two or more of the following conditions are present: a person drinks large amounts of alcohol over a long time period, has difficulty cutting down, acquiring and drinking alcohol takes up a great deal of time, alcohol is strongly desired, usage results in not fulfilling responsibilities, usage results in social problems, usage results in health problems, usage results in risky situations, withdrawal occurs when stopping, and alcohol tolerance has occurred with use. Risky situations include drinking and driving or having unsafe sex, among other things. Alcohol use can affect all parts of the body, but it particularly affects the brain, heart, liver, pancreas and immune system. This can result in mental illness, Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome, irregular heartbeat, an impaired immune response, liver cirrhosis and increased cancer risk, among other diseases. Drinking during pregnancy can cause damage to the baby resulting in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Women are generally more sensitive than men to the harmful physical and mental effects of alcohol.

Drug rehabilitation is the process of medical or psychotherapeutic treatment for dependency on psychoactive substances such as alcohol, prescription drugs, and street drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin or amphetamines. The general intent is to enable the patient to confront substance dependence, if present, and cease substance abuse to avoid the psychological, legal, financial, social, and physical consequences that can be caused, especially by extreme abuse.

Early career in municipal politics, 1987–1998

In 1974, at the age of 19, Schulz joined the SPD, became involved with the Young Socialists and in 1984 was elected to the Würselen Municipal Council, remaining a member for just over two electoral terms, to 1998, from 1987 onwards as mayor. [9] At 31, [6] he was then the youngest mayor in North Rhine-Westphalia. He held that office until 1998. As a municipal counselor he initiated the twinning of Würselen with the city of Morlaix in French Brittany, where he became friends with Marylise Lebranchu, who was the mayor and later became French Minister of Justice (2000–2002) and Minister for Public Services (2012–2016).[ citation needed ]

Young Socialists in the SPD youth organization of the Social Democratic Party of Germany

Working Group of Young Socialists in the SPD is a voluntary youth organisation of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).

North Rhine-Westphalia State in Germany

North Rhine-Westphalia is a state of Germany.

Morlaix Subprefecture and commune in Brittany, France

Morlaix is a commune in the Finistère department of Brittany in northwestern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.

Member of the European Parliament (MEP), 1994–2017

Martin Schulz with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in 2014. 14-02-04-strasbourgh-napolitano-RalfR-26.jpg
Martin Schulz with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in 2014.

In the 1994 European elections Schulz was elected to the European Parliament and between 2000 and 2004 was chair of the SPD delegation. Schulz has served on a number of committees, including the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the Subcommittee on Human Rights. He led the German delegation of the Socialist group (SPD members) from 2000 and was also a vice-chair of the Socialist Group in the EP. He was elected group leader in 2004, of the PSE Group, succeeding the Spaniard Enrique Barón Crespo, a position held until he was elected EP president. Since 2009, Schulz has also acted as the representative for European Affairs for Germany's SPD party and his views have deeply influenced his party's pro-European politics.

In 2004 as Leader of the S&D group, Schulz introduced a motion in the European Parliament to refuse to give approval/consent to the Barroso Commission on the basis of the proposed appointment of Italian nominee Rocco Buttiglione and his publicly expressed homophobic views. A large majority of MEPs from the other political groups followed and consequently Buttiglione was withdrawn and replaced by Franco Frattini.

By 2008, SPD chairman Kurt Beck has said he wanted Schulz to succeed Günter Verheugen as Germany's EU commissioner following the 2009 European elections; the post eventually went to Günther Oettinger. [10]

President of the European Parliament, 2012–2017

The ceremony of the Sakharov Prize awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi by Schulz, inside the European Parliament's Strasbourg hemicycle, in 2013 Remise du Prix Sakharov a Aung San Suu Kyi Strasbourg 22 octobre 2013-14.jpg
The ceremony of the Sakharov Prize awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi by Schulz, inside the European Parliament's Strasbourg hemicycle, in 2013

Following the 2009 European elections Schulz came to public attention when he insisted that his group should not immediately approve a second term of office for European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and instead, together with the Chair of the Green Group in the European Parliament, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, proposed the Belgian Liberal Guy Verhofstadt as a candidate for that office. [11] Following reassurances by Barroso, Schulz dropped his categorical opposition to him, insisting only that he should make certain political concessions to the Social Democrats. [12] As a result, the majority of the group abstained on the confidence vote to Barroso.

Schulz meeting with the Turkish opposition politician Selahattin Demirtas, who was later arrested Selahattin Demirtas and Martin Schulz.jpg
Schulz meeting with the Turkish opposition politician Selahattin Demirtaş, who was later arrested

On 15 September 2011, members of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament unanimously nominated Schulz as their candidate for the President of the European Parliament. On 17 January 2012, Schulz was elected as President of the European Parliament, with 387 votes in favour out of 670 cast. [13] Other candidates were Nirj Deva (142 votes) and Diana Wallis (141 votes). [13]

Together with EU Commission President Barroso and EU Council President Herman van Rompuy, Schulz collected the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the European Union. The Prize, honoring "over six decades [having] contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe", was awarded by a unanimous decision of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

As president of European Parliament, Schulz proved extremely adept at delicate diplomatic missions, such as his visit with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following the 2016 coup attempt and his visit with Iranian President Hassan Rohani in November 2015 to "intensify dialogue" between the EU and Iran a few months after the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. [4]

In November 2016, Schulz announced that he would not run for a third term in January 2017, and instead return to German politics. [14] He resigned his seat on 10 February 2017, leaving the European Parliament after more than twenty-two years. [15]

Candidacy for President of the European Commission

On 6 November 2013, Schulz was nominated as "candidate designate" by the Party of European Socialists – at the time the second-largest group in the 750-seat parliament –, with the aim to become the first candidate to be elected President of the European Commission by democratic elections. [16] He was unopposed, as no other candidate stepped forward to challenge him in the race to be the socialist campaign figurehead. [17] This kicked off a tour to all member states and particularly all member parties.

On 1 March 2014, Schulz accepted the nomination of the Party of European Socialists in Rome. He was elected by 368 PES members out of 404, with only 2 votes against him. Prior to the vote, in what was widely seen as a clear signal to its European partners on the left that there are limits to their support for the EU, Britain's Labour Party had publicly spoken out against Schulz as the left's candidate, instead favouring Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark's Social Democrats. Schulz launched his European campaign on 17 April in front of 1,600 socialist activists in Paris, promising to tackle taxes and social dumping. [18] He ran against Conservative Jean-Claude Juncker, then Prime Minister of Luxembourg, and Liberal Guy Verhofstadt.

However, when the Socialists came second in the European election behind the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), Germany's Social Democrats announced that they would accept one of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives taking the German post on the European Commission if Schulz remained president of the European Parliament. [19] The decision to back Juncker for the Commission's presidency instead was later endorsed at an informal meeting in Paris of eight Social Democratic leaders, including Thorning-Schmidt, Sigmar Gabriel of Germany and Werner Faymann of Austria. [20] Accordingly, Schulz did not join the European Commission but remained in his current position.

Domestic politics

Since 1999, Schulz has been part of the SPD leadership under party chairmen Gerhard Schröder (1999–2004), Franz Müntefering (2004–05 and 2008–09), Matthias Platzeck (2005–06), Kurt Beck (2006–08) and Sigmar Gabriel (2009–17). Within the party, he serves as co-chairman of the Commission for International Politics, alongside Niels Annen. [21] Schulz was an SPD delegate to the Federal Convention for the purpose of electing the President of Germany in 2004, 2009, 2010 and 2012. In the negotiations to form a coalition government following the 2013 federal elections, he was part of the wider leadership circle chaired by Angela Merkel, Horst Seehofer and Sigmar Gabriel. He also led the SPD delegation in the working group on European affairs; his co-chair of the CDU/CSU was fellow MEP Herbert Reul.

During his 2014 campaign for the Presidency of the European Commission, Schulz established himself as a regular presence in German media on issues unconnected to the European Parliament elections that year. [22] By 2015, German newspapers speculated that Schulz was interested in running for the chancellorship of Germany in the 2017 federal elections. [23] In May 2016, he told weekly newspaper Welt am Sonntag that he would not enter the race to succeed Angela Merkel. [24] In November 2016, Schulz announced that he would not seek a third term as president of the European Parliament, but would instead run for a seat on the German parliament in the 2017 elections, which reignited the chancellorship speculations. On 24 January 2017, Schulz was confirmed as the Social Democrats' candidate for chancellor. [25]

2017 federal election

Schulz in Gelsenkirchen, 20 September 2017 20170920 Martin Schulz in Gelsenkirchen 07.jpg
Schulz in Gelsenkirchen, 20 September 2017

On 24 January 2017, Schulz became the Social Democrats' candidate for chancellor in that year's Federal election. [25] In March he was unanimously chosen as official head of the party, the first time in post-war Germany a leader of the SPD received no dissenting vote. [26] Following the announcement of his nomination, his party gained an average of ten percentage points in public opinion polls. For a short period of time the SPD was close to the Union parties of Chancellor Merkel, during this time political observers regarded it possible that Schulz could unseat Merkel in the federal election on 24 September 2017. Polls also showed Schulz leading Merkel if Germans could elect their chancellor directly.

With unemployment hitting new lows each month during the campaign, Schulz later struggled to gain traction with a message focusing on the ills of inequality in Germany. Shortly before the election, he refocused his campaign on the risk of a rekindled European migrant crisis. [27] [28] In July 2017, illness forced Schulz’s campaign manager and friend Markus Engels to step down. [29] In the federal elections on 24 September 2017, the Social Democrats slumped to 20.5 percent, a new postwar low. [30]

Aftermath of the 2017 federal election

Within an hour of the first exit poll, Schulz confirmed statements by other senior party figures that the SPD would not renew its Grand coalition with the CDU under Angela Merkel but head into opposition. [31] Schulz explicitly refused to serve in a Merkel government. [32] However, after the attempt to form a "Jamaica coalition" between CDU/CSU, FDP and Greens failed in November 2017 and President Steinmeier asked him to reconsider, Schulz reverted his position and began coalition talks with the CDU/CSU parties.

In February 2018, these coalition talks concluded successfully and Schulz announced he would succeed incumbent Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel as Foreign minister. After heavy public and internal criticism, Schulz stepped down as SPD Leader on 13 February 2018 and proposed Andrea Nahles as his replacement; and shortly thereafter he also gave up his attempt to become Foreign minister. The attempt to install Nahles as acting party leader faced severe criticism from several regional party associations as well as experts in constitutional law. [33] The party executive nominated Nahles as the new leader, with Olaf Scholz, as the longest-serving deputy, taking over as acting party leader until the party conference on 22 April 2018. [34]

Political positions

European integration

Schulz meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran FM Javad Zarif meeting with European Parliament president Martin Schulz 03.jpg
Schulz meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran

Schulz is widely considered an ardent EU supporter. [35] He has hailed European unification as being civilization's greatest achievement over the past century. [4] In 2014, however, he argued it was also essential that responsibility was delegated away from Brussels and down to national, regional and local authorities, allowing the EU to focus on the big issues. [36] As a result of Schulz's pro-Europeanism, both supporters and detractors have linked him with the slogan "MEGA" – "Make Europe Great Again" – as a parody of US President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again". [37]

Schulz is committed to strengthening Europe and the European institutions. In 2016, he presented a ten-point plan for a reform of the EU with Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. It calls for a "streamlining" of European structures and the establishment of a strong European government under the control of the European Parliament. [38]

Schulz has often emphasised that the European Union is the best way to banish the "demons of the twentieth century", such as racism, xenophobia and antisemitism. [39] The Jerusalem Post criticised his words on antisemitism as "meaningless condemnations". [40]

After the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in a membership referendum, Schulz warned in mid-2016: "If we break the instruments with which we banish the demons, we will set them free again." [38] He is one of the 27 initiators of the Charter of Digital Fundamental Rights published in November 2016 Of the European Union. [41]

In December 2017, Schulz called for a new constitutional treaty for a "United States of Europe". [42] He proposed that this constitution should be written by "a convention that includes civil society and the people" and that any state that declined to accept this proposed constitution should have to leave the bloc. [42] His proposal is "likely to be met with some resistance from Merkel and other EU leaders". [42]

Security policy

In front of the European Council on 19 December 2013, Schulz took responsibility for the initiation of the Cox-Kwaśniewski mission to Ukraine. [43] In the same speech, he noted that Europe was still militarily dependent on the USA, and that in many cases Europe would be quite incapable of carrying out a military operation without the support of the USA.

Schulz was quoted in a newspaper report of his speech as having said: "If we wish to defend our values and interests, if we wish to maintain the security of our citizens, then a majority of MEPs consider that we need a headquarters for civil and military missions in Brussels and deployable troops," [44] The External Action Service of HRUFASP Catherine Ashton had prepared a proposal, which was supported by France, Spain, Italy, Poland and Germany who together have QMV majority, to create a European Air Force composed of surveillance drones, heavy transport airplanes, and air-to-air refuelling planes. [44] The debate was joined with a view presented by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who maintained that "Nato will remain the bedrock of Euro-Atlantic security." [44] Rasmussen's view prevailed on the Council at this time because QMV does not take effect in decisions of the European Council until 1 November 2014.

Economy

Schulz believes that dignified work is a value in itself. For that reason, he says, he is not a proponent of the concept of unconditional basic income. However, Schulz is much in favour of decent wage agreements, secure and lasting jobs, employee participation in decision-making and the examination of the social justification for claims and payments. [45]

Foreign affairs

In an effort to improve relations between Europe and Cuba, Schulz led a European Parliament delegation to Havana for talks with Carlos Lage Dávila on lifting EU sanction against the countries in 2008. [46]

In 2014, Schulz delivered a speech to the Israeli Knesset, in which he criticised Israel for denying Palestinians a fair share of water resources in the occupied West Bank. The speech sparked a walk-out by several lawmakers from the far-right Jewish Home party, and drew a public rebuke from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. [47]

In 2015, amid the Ukrainian crisis, Schulz suspended a committee made up of Russian and EU lawmakers that meets several times a year to improve ties. [48] When Russia barred entry to two politicians from the EU who had planned to attend the funeral in 2015 of murdered opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, Schulz criticised the barring as "a high affront to EU–Russia relations and the work of democratic institutions". [49]

In 2016, Schulz stated that Donald Trump is a problem "for the whole world," and linked the Trump phenomenon to far-right populism in Europe. He called Trump an "irresponsible man" who "boasts about not having a clue". [50]

Other activities

Controversy

Berlusconi incident

On 2 July 2003, one day after Italy taking over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU, Schulz criticized Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy of his domestic policy. Berlusconi replied:

Signor Schulz, so che in Italia c'è un produttore che sta montando un film sui campi di concentramento nazisti: la suggerirò per il ruolo di kapò. Lei è perfetto!

In English: Mister Schulz, I know of a film-producer in Italy who is making a film about Nazi concentration-camps. I will recommend you for the part of a Kapo [concentration-camp inmate appointed as supervisor]. You are perfect!

Berlusconi later claimed he was referring to the comedy-series Hogan's Heroes , where a slow-witted character named Sgt. Hans Georg Schultz, played by John Banner, starred. Even though Berlusconi insisted that he was just being ironic, [52] his comparisons with the Nazis caused a brief diplomatic rift between the two.

Incident with Godfrey Bloom

On 24 November 2010 the British MEP Godfrey Bloom caused a row in the European Parliament when he interrupted a speech by Martin Schulz, heckling him with the Nazi propaganda slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer ('one people, one empire, one leader') and accusing him of being an 'undemocratic fascist'. Bloom later stated that he was referring to the fact that the indoctrination of the German people under the Nazi regime has long-lasting effects; "some Germans still find it difficult to accept diversity in Europe and differences of opinion". In the debate on the future of the Euro Stability Pact Schulz had criticised the role played by the United Kingdom, which was involved in the discussions despite not being a member of the eurozone, and said that some eurosceptics would take pleasure in the collapse of the European Union. Following the incident, the President of Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, excluded Bloom from the Chamber. [53] The Dutch MEP Barry Madlener, from the right-wing populist Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV – Freedom Party), then protested against that decision, on the grounds that Schulz himself had recently described the PVV MEP Daniël van der Stoep as a fascist, but had not been excluded from the Chamber. [54]

Schulz received criticism after having transformed the Twitter account that his staff had built up for his European Parliament presidency into his own personal account in order to use it as part of his candidature to the EU Commission. [55]

During his time as President of the European Parliament, Schulz removed a paragraph critical of his stewardship in a key committee report set for debate on 2 April 2014, thereby attracting a lot of negative attention. [55] As a consequence, a large majority of the European Parliament voted on 4 April 2014 to invite Schulz to resign so that he would be able to campaign for the European elections. [56] [57] [58]

Lastly, Schulz was criticized about the tax-free daily allowance of €304 the President of the Parliament received, until 18 April 2014, which he received while he was campaigning to become President of the commission. This was paid for 365 days a year, in addition to his salary of 200 thousand euros per year. A member of parliament receives this daily allowance only for attending. [59] [60] [61]

Allegation of favoring close employees

In April 2017, the European Parliament, as part of its decision to discharge the financial year 2015, criticized two personnel matters where Schulz had been responsible for as President of Parliament. An employee of the parliament received an expatriation allowance of around 20'000 euros, even though his center of life had previously been in Berlin. The employee was a confidant of Schulz and later worked for the SPD as its campaign manager. Schulz was also accused of signing irregular promotions of close associates in a presidential decree that would have secured them financially advantageous posts beyond his departure. Schulz described the complaint as an election maneuver by "anti-Europeans, conservatives and Greens" and referred a decision of the European Anti-Fraud Office not to initiate an official investigation. [62] [63] [64]

Foreign Minister Debate

On the day of the 2017 Federal Election, Schulz said he would under no circumstances become a minister of a government led by Angela Merkel or negotiate to form a Grand Coalition. After the SPD and Union parties finished their coalition talks on 6 February 2018, he made his intentions clear that he wanted to be Foreign Minister in the next government. This was met by heavy criticism from the party base, as Schulz was abandoning his word for a second time—the first being his vow not to enter coalition talks with Angela Merkel. The harshest criticism came from the incumbent Foreign Minister and his predecessor as SPD leader, Sigmar Gabriel. He accused Schulz and the Party leadership of not showing him the respect he deserves and being rude towards him. This public attack, coupled with internal pressure from the party leadership, led Schulz to retract prior statements and on 9 February 2018 he released a statement saying he would not enter into the new government; [65] he resigned as leader of the SPD effective 13 February 2018.

Personal life

Schulz is married and has two children, Nico and Lina. [9] [66] He was raised Roman Catholic and is a lapsed Catholic. [67]

He suffered a period of alcoholism as a young man, after a knee injury put an end to his hopes of playing football. [68] [69]

Besides German, Schulz speaks English, French, Spanish, Italian and Dutch with varying degrees of fluency. [70] [71]

Honours and decorations

National honour

Foreign honours

South America

Asia

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Olaf Scholz German politician, federal minister of finance and vice chancellor

Olaf Scholz is a German politician serving as Federal Minister of Finance and Vice Chancellor under Chancellor Angela Merkel from the CDU since 14 March 2018. He served as First Mayor of Hamburg from 7 March 2011 to 13 March 2018 and Acting Leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) from 13 February to 22 April 2018.

Thomas Oppermann German politician

Thomas Ludwig Albert Oppermann is a German politician and member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Since October 2017 he has been Vice President of the Bundestag. He served as First Secretary (2007-2013) and later as chairman (2013-2017) of the SPD Parliamentary Group in the Bundestag.

Hannelore Kraft German politician

Hannelore Kraft is a German politician. She served as the Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia from 2010 until 2017. Kraft was the first woman to serve as head of government of this state and was the third woman to become head of a state government in Germany. Between 1 November 2010 and 31 October 2011 she was the President of the Bundesrat, again the first woman to hold the office. She is the former leader of the SPD North Rhine-Westphalia and served on the SPD's federal executive from November 2009 until May 2017, and was one of the four federal deputy chairs.

Carsten Schneider is a German social democratic politician, who has been a member of the German Parliament since 1998. Since 2017, he has been serving as First Secretary of his party's parliamentary group, in this position assisting the group's chairwoman Andrea Nahles.

Jens Geier German politician

Jens Adolf Geier is a German politician and member of the European Parliament from Germany. He is a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, part of the Party of European Socialists.

Third Merkel cabinet third government of Germany under Angela Merkel

The third cabinet of Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel was sworn in on 17 December 2013. Led by Merkel, the government was supported by a coalition of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU), and the Social Democrats (SPD).

Katarina Barley German politician (SPD), federal minister of justice

Katarina Barley is a German politician and lawyer who is the current Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection in the fourth Cabinet of Angela Merkel. She served as Federal Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth from 2 June 2017 and as acting Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs from 28 September 2017, both until 14 March 2018. She is a member of the European Parliament.

2017 Saarland state election elections

State elections were held in Saarland on 26 March 2017. All 51 seats in the Landtag of Saarland were up for election. The incumbent Minister-President Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer went into the election leading a grand coalition of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), seeking re-election after serving two terms as Minister-President.

SPD party member vote on the 2018 coalition agreement of Germany

The SPD party member vote on the 2018 coalition agreement of Germany took place from 20 February to 2 March 2018. The members of the SPD party decided per postal vote whether the coalition treaty with CDU and CSU parties will be accepted or not. The result, 66.02% in favor of the Yes campaign, was published on 4 March 2018. It was decisive for Angela Merkel's plan to get re-elected as chancellor of Germany on 14 March in the German Bundestag.

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Party political offices
Preceded by
Enrique Barón Crespo
Leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
2004–2012
Succeeded by
Hannes Swoboda
Preceded by
Sigmar Gabriel
Leader of the Social Democratic Party
2017–2018
Succeeded by
Olaf Scholz
Acting
Political offices
Preceded by
Jerzy Buzek
President of the European Parliament
2012–2014
Succeeded by
Gianni Pittella
Acting
Preceded by
Gianni Pittella
Acting
President of the European Parliament
2014–2017
Succeeded by
Antonio Tajani