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    Martin Schulz reacts after he was elected new Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader during an SPD party convention in Berlin, Germany, March 19, 2017

    Steinmeier - to President, Schultz - to Chancellor? SPD Taking Power in Germany

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    On Monday, March 20, former German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) started his work as the new German President. On Sunday, there was a symbolic ceremony of the delegation of authority by his predecessor Joachim Gauck.

    Steinmeier"s "Honorary Resignation"

    Steinmeier was elected President on February 12, when the vast majority of Bundestag MPs supported his candidacy for this post.

    "Such a success was quite expected: the press often called Steinmeier "the most popular German politician." He was different compared to many other members of Angela Merkel's cabinet, among other things, because he allowed himself to make statements that did not coincide with the official course of the German leadership," political observer Vladimir Ardaev wrote for RIA Novosti.

    For instance, Steinmeier has repeatedly stated that European countries should strengthen their cooperation with Russia as Moscow plays a major role in the resolution of international conflicts. He also advocated the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions, as well as Russia's return to the G8.

    Having been elected German President, Steinmeier has been de facto detached from active politics. According to Ardaev, this is a kind of "honorary resignation" as the post of president in Germany is a representative post, that doesn't provide for real political power.

    New SPD Leader Schulz- a serious rival for Merkel

    On Sunday, during a congressional assembly of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Martin Schulz was officially and unanimously elected the leader of the party and a candidate for the post of Federal Chancellor.

    "Steinmeier has been appointed as President, while Martin Schultz has come to the front," Ardaev wrote.

    Initially, Schulz was viewed as a compromising candidate, who would suit most German politicians, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The politician showed less opposition and independence than Steinmeier, and demonstrated a strong commitment to the ideas of European integration.

    However, according to Ardaev, this calculation proved to be wrong.

    "Since the end of January, when the SPD first named its likely candidate for the post of Federal Chancellor, Martin Schulz, his election rating began to grow rapidly and by the beginning of March was almost equal to that of Angela Merkel. Today, the level of the approval of Merkel and Schulz is approximately the same — 26-28%, and according to some polls the Social Democrat is already ahead of his powerful rival," the expert noted.

    If this trend continues, Schulz has every chance to win the upcoming election that is set to take place on September 24.

    "Charming Politician Without a High-School Diploma"

    According to German Das Bild newspaper, there are a lot of reasons behind Schultz's popularity. He speaks openly about social problems, while avoiding negative remarks on the refugee issue.

    "According to the newspaper, Schulz has a "rare charm", including in communication with the press. The fact that he doesn't have a certificate of secondary education is a "plus," which demonstrates that the social democrats really have a system of "social lift," which allows any talented individual to achieve success regardless of formalities," the newspaper wrote.

    In addition, as Das Bild noted, Martin Schulz is not afraid of difficult tasks, and unlike most other politicians, continues to speak his native dialect and actively uses Twitter to communicate with the audience. According to the newspaper, Schultz can become a person that will receive equally strong support from conservative and leftist forces within the SPD.

    Related:

    Germany's SPD Conference Approves Schulz as Party Chief, Chancellor Nominee
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    election, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Angela Merkel, Martin Schulz, Germany
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