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Martin Schulz
Martin Schulz © Olaf Kosinsky

Germany election: Schulz vows to fight populism

20/03/17Government

The candidate named by Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SDP) to challenge Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to fight populism if his party wins the elections in September.

At an SPD party meeting in Berlin, Martin Schulz denounced Eurosceptics and the “racist” rhetoric of US President Donald Trump.

The convention unanimously confirmed Schulz as the candidate who will lead the SDP to the election.

The party hopes that Schulz, a former president of the European Parliament, will boost its chances of governing without Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Party.

Opinion polls suggest the SDP trail the CDU, although Schulz’s personal rating compares favourably with that of Merkel.

In his speech, he blamed the rise of populism on a growing gap between average workers and the wealthy.

Schultz also said that as leader of the EU Parliament he had always stood up “to those who attempt to destroy this project of unity”.

“Those people find in me a determined opponent,” he added.

Referring to Trump, he denounced what he called the president’s “misogynistic, anti-democratic and racist” rhetoric.

Schulz was the only nominee for the post of party chairman. He received 100% of the delegates’ votes.

He replaces Sigmar Gabriel, who stepped down as chairman in January in an attempt to improve the party’s chances.