November 28, 2019 / 11:35 AM / 17 days ago

Factbox: Aspiring leaders of Germany's Social Democrats

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) will announce on Saturday which candidate party members have chosen to be their new leader, tasked with deciding whether to ditch their coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.

FILE PHOTO: German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, Klara Geywitz and other Social Democratic Party candidates arrive for the announcement of their leadership ballot in Berlin, Germany, October 26, 2019. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse

Withdrawing from the 1-1/2 year-old coalition could trigger a snap election or a minority government. Following are key facts about the candidates who are standing in pairs:

OLAF SCHOLZ AND KLARA GEYWITZ

- They want to continue the coalition with Merkel.

- Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor Scholz, a centrist and widely seen as the continuity candidate, is the best known figure in the line-up, making this the pairing to beat.

- Widely seen as competent but uncharismatic, Scholz’s cautious approach is sometimes compared to Merkel’s. A plus is his track record of winning elections in the city state of Hamburg, where he was mayor.

- He is unpopular with the SPD’s left for sticking to strict fiscal rules introduced by his conservative predecessor as finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble.

- Geywitz is a little-known SPD politician from the former Communist eastern state of Brandenburg who lost her seat in the regional assembly in September.

NORBERT WALTER-BORJANS AND SASKIA ESKEN

- They are very critical of the coalition with Merkel and want to renegotiate the deal.

- Walter-Borjans, on the left of the SPD, is a former finance minister in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. He gained a reputation as a “Robin Hood of taxpayers” for cracking down on tax evaders with Swiss bank accounts.

- Left-winger Esken, a lawmaker in Germany’s federal parliament from the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, is little known but is most critical of the ruling coalition, having said that if Merkel’s party refuses to renegotiate the agreement, she would recommend quitting it.

- The leftist youth wing of the SPD, Jusos, backs Walter-Borjans and Esken and they may be helped by the sheer numbers of SPD members in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Gareth Jones

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