Martin Schulz, the Social Democrat who’s shaping up as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s biggest electoral threat yet, said he’ll avoid campaign tactics associated with U.S. President Donald Trump and vowed to oppose forces that want to tear the European Union apart.
Almost two months after the former European Parliament president emerged as Merkel’s main challenger in the September election, Schulz pledged to campaign for equal pay for men and women and warned against nationalist parties in a party convention speech yesterday. He’s looking to sustain early momentum in the polls that’s lifted the Social Democrats to virtual parity with Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led bloc, which has governed Germany for almost 12 years.
SPD delegates in Berlin are voting on formally backing Schulz’s candidacy for chancellor and naming him party head. Combining the role of candidate and chairman is seen as a hedge against bickering among the party’s factions, potentially clearing the way for Schulz to focus on campaign themes beyond appealing to the SPD’s base and voters left behind in Germany’s booming economy.
“If there’s one lesson from Donald Trump’s election campaign, it’s that contempt, working with fake news and blanket condemnation of entire groups of people have no place in Germany,” Schulz said to applause from the 600 party members. “You won’t see me engaging in the vilification of political competitors.” Bloomberg