Former SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel has criticised the EU leader's decision, describing it as an "unprecedented act of political trickery" and calling for his party to prevent it, Der Spiegel reported.
"If Merkel names von der Leyen without a cabinet decision, that is a clear violation of the rules of the federal government – and a reason to leave the government", Sigmar Gabriel told Der Spiegel.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated earlier in Brussels that she had not participated in the nomination of von der Leyen, because the coalition in Berlin was not unanimous. She said she had to "comply with the rules of German voting behaviour".
Outgoing European Council President Donald Tusk has confirmed that Germany abstained from the vote on the Commission president due to "some issues in the government coalition", but stressed that Chancellor Angela Merkel supported the whole package of nominees.
The SPD had already announced that they did not support the nomination.
According to the party, Ursula von der Leyen "never stood for the (EU) elections, and therefore is not convincing".
Christian Social Union (CSU) head Markus Soder noted that Manfred Weber would have been the legitimate President of the Commission and that electing him would have been the most democratic way.
In May, Merkel expressed her support for Manfred Weber, the leading candidate of the European People’s Party (EPP), but EU leaders decided to remove Weber from the race for the EU Commission leadership.