BERLIN (Reuters) - German Justice Minister Katarina Barley will be the Social Democrats’ (SPD) top candidate in European elections next year, the party said on Wednesday, announcing a move that heralds a change to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s divided cabinet.
Barley is expected to give up her current position in conservative Merkel’s ruling coalition to lead the SPD’s campaign in Germany for the election due in May.
With conservative Interior Minister Horst Seehofer under pressure to resign following his party’s disastrous performance in a regional election in Bavaria on Sunday, Merkel may yet need to reshuffle her cabinet in the coming weeks.
Divisions within her cabinet widened in the run-up to the Bavaria election.
Since the vote, the Christian Social Union (CSU), sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CSU), has vowed to make the coalition work. CSU leader Seehofer had been Merkel’s leading critic in the ruling alliance before the election
Barley said she wanted to help the SPD, junior partner in Merkel’s ruling alliance, after the party suffered a battering in the Bavaria election, at which it won less than 10 percent of the vote. “I want to make my contribution to things improving,” she told reporters.
SPD leader Andrea Nahles added of Barley: “She is a born European, with British father, a German mother, dual nationality, her two sons have grand parents from four European countries. She speaks four European languages fluently.”
Reporting by Michelle Martin and Paul Carrel; Editing by Madeline Chambers and Matthew Mpoke Bigg