German Social Democrat Sigmar Gabriel said he will not be challenging Chancellor Angela Merkel in a national election on September 24.
The shocking news reported Tuesday by multiple German newspapers may lead to a less predictable election. Currently, Merkel’s party holds a double-digit lead over the Social Democrats (SPD).
“If I were to stand, I would fail and the SPD would fail with me,” Gabriel, who currently serves as vice chancellor and economy minister, told Stern magazine.
Gabriel also announced he would recommending former European Parliament president Martin Schulz to lead the SPD and consequently be the one to challenge Merkel as she seeks a fourth term as Germany’s chancellor.
Though Gabriel cited polls indicating that Schulz would be a more popular candidate, Schulz faces tough opposition from Merkel, whose party retains high support despite unease over her liberal stance on refugees.