February 21, 2018 / 2:50 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 2-German SPD has not discussed backing Weidmann for ECB chief - sources

(Recasts with source denying decision taken)

BERLIN, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) have not discussed backing Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann as the next head of the European Central Bank, two party sources said on Wednesday, dismissing a newspaper report that they had agreed to support him.

“We haven’t even spoken about that yet,” said one of the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.

There was no official comment available from the SPD.

Earlier, weekly newspaper Die Zeit reported that the SPD would support a decision by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives to back Weidmann.

SPD support would improve Weidmann’s chances of succeeding ECB President Mario Draghi, despite some scepticism in southern Europe about his hawkish monetary policy stance.

Euro zone finance ministers on Monday chose a southern European, Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos, as ECB vice president. That was seen as clearing the way for a German to take over the top job in 2019, when Draghi’s mandate ends .

Die Zeit cited German government sources as saying that Merkel got the Social Democrats’ go-ahead for a Weidmann candidacy during coalition talks earlier this month.

Picking the Bundesbank chief for the ECB presidency may prove tricky. Italian Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said on Wednesday that it should not be taken for granted that Weidmann would be the next ECB president.

Although Weidmann is considered a top-notch central banker, he has alienated some officials with his opposition to the ECB’s ultra-easy monetary policy, which is credited with reviving economic growth. (Reporting by Holger Hansen and Michael Nienaber; editing by Andrew Roche)

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