It seems that Martin Schulz has good chances to find a face-saving exit from his increasingly hopeless attempts to remain at the helm of the European Parliament.
Once again, Angela Merkel has mis-managed the selection of the next Federal President of Germany. Last time, the Socialists, Liberals, and Greens imposed on her the protestant pastor and former civil rights activist Joachim Gauck. Gauck was widely poular in the German population and, in addition, a member of Merkel’s own Christian Democratic Union – two reasons why it was impossible for her to reject the proposal, even if she might have preferred another candidate. This time, the Socialists, with the support of the Bavarian Christian Democrats, have selected the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Again, this is apparently against Merkel’s wish – but, not having come up with a more suitable candidate when it was time to do so, she can’t prevent it from happening.
It is certainly fortunate that Mr. Steinmeier will now leave the post of Foreign Minister, given that his very un-diplomatic comments on Donald Trump while he was still a candidate might have a negative impact on the future German/American relationship now that Trump indeed has been elected. Given that the role of the Federal President is largely ceremonial, Mr. Steinmeier’s lack of diplomatic skills will be less harmful.
However, the man who now seems very likely to replace Mr. Steinmeier as Foreign Minister is Martin Schulz, for whom a new job is urgently sought as the EPP seems increasingly unwilling to support his bid for a third term as EP President. For Germany’s foreign relations this is without doubt a disaster, given that Schulz’s skills are not exactly in the domain of diplomacy, but in the area of bullying. He must be expected to give a rather unfriendly face to the biggest EU Member State.
Schulz will probably use his new post to prepare for his role as Mrs. Merkel’s challenger in the general elections that are scheduled for September next year. But it is unlikely that he can surpass her, so that the only chance for him to actually become the next Chancellor appears to be a coalition including the unreformed Communists from the former GDR-State-Party “Die Linke”. Already in his role as EP President Mr. Schulz has shown no hesitation to closely collaborate with the extreme Left.