The head of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD), Martin Schulz, has resigned to ease preparations for a coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.
The change is a hope by the party's leadership committee to contain the bitter infighting which has continued despite Schulz's resignation from the role as SPD leader, as well as his more recent surrender of the prospective post as foreign minister in a new "grand coalition", referring the coalition between SPD and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Conservatives Union.
The new agreement between the two parties has seen the CDU give the SPD three prestigious ministerial posts of finance, foreign affairs and labour. The party's youth wing is pushing the Social Democrats to go into opposition, and leadership questions mired its top officials. "It was right when Martin Schulz proposed Andrea Nahles take over the interim leadership", Malu Dreyer, the influential regional prime minister of Rhineland-Palatinate said. After fierce criticism from some former allies, Schulz ditched plans to take the post of foreign minister. His plans to take the ministry had become a major distraction because after September's election he had explicitly ruled out entering Merkel's next Cabinet. Protocol would have dictated that a deputy leader step in as interim chairman.
He made the decision after days of personnel debates within the SPD.
He used the opportunity to lobby for members to sign off on the agreement, saying it was "70 percent" Social Democratic policy and could be used as a springboard to push more of its issues.More news: Major assault launched against IS in Egypt
Speaking to Germany's Funke media group, Gabriel said he felt that while "in the eyes of the public I have clearly carried out my duties very well and successfully ..."
If approved, a coalition deal would end Germany's longest period without a government since the Second World War.
The vote's outcome is expected in early March. A "no" vote would likely lead to new elections, prolonging uncertainty in Europe's most populous country and economic powerhouse. That would leave only an unprecedented minority government under Merkel or a new election as options.
"Not only has a Bavarian politician passed the pinnacle of his career, but probably a woman from the north too", he added in a dig at Merkel and Horst Seehofer, leader of the arch-conservative Bavarian sister party (CSU) to Merkel's CDU.