Germany‘s Social Democrats (SPD) are considering holding a direct ballot of their members to select a candidate to challenge Chancellor Angela Merkel at the next national election set down for 2017. Leading SPD figures said on Wednesday they were open to conducting a plebiscite of the party‘s about 474,000 members to decide on its chancellor candidate. This follows a call by the leader of the SPD‘s youth wing, Johanna Uekermann who told the daily Welt on Wednesday: “Each member must be allowed a say in a primary-type election.” SPD chief Sigmar Gabriel has also indicated recently that the party membership should be allowed to vote if several candidates emerge to head up the election campaign.
Echoing Gabriel‘s comments, a leader of the SPD‘s conservative faction Johannes Kahrs told the business daily Handelsblatt: “If there are several serious candidates then we can conduct a member survey.”
At the same time, Ralf Stegner, a party vice president and member of the SPD‘s leftwing, said he could imagine the party holding a voting process.
The debate about selecting a chancellor-candidate comes in the wake of comments made last month by the SPD Premier of the state of Schleswig-Holstein Torsten Albig questioning whether his party could find a candidate to beat Merkel, who is regularly tops opinion polls as the nation‘s most popular politician.