Germany: Social Democrats leader won't run for chancellor

BERLIN (AP) " The leader of Germany's Social Democratic Party said Tuesday he won't stand as the party's candidate for chancellor in this fall's national election, shaking up the political landscape on the same day the country's president confirmed the election will be held Sept. 24.

SPD head Sigmar Gabriel told Der Stern magazine that he believed his party would have better chances if someone else stood as its candidate for chancellor. The party said Gabriel instead proposed Martin Schulz, who recently decided not to seek another term as European Parliament president to return to domestic politics, as the chancellor candidate.

The Social Democrats are currently Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition partner in government.

Gabriel, who is currently vice-chancellor and economy minister, is expected instead to become Foreign Minister once incumbent Frank-Walter Steinmeier becomes the country's president in February, Stern reported.

Ahead of Gabriel's announcement, current President Joachim Gauck said he had approved the Cabinet's proposed date for the fall election, the last Sunday in September.

The vote is expected to see the nationalist Alternative for Germany, or AfD, enter the national parliament on a wave of anti-migrant sentiment.

They're currently polling about 12 percent.

Merkel will be running for a fourth term, although it is far from certain who would join her in a coalition government if AfD takes a significant share of votes away from other parties.

Merkel's conservative bloc is currently atop the polls with about 36 percent support, followed by the Social Democrats with around 21 percent.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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