>> Germany's Social Democrats have just agreed on a new leadership lineup. A move they hope will end the party's slide into chaos, which began last week when they agreed to go into the coalition government again with Chancellor Angela Merkel and her conservatives. Here at the SPD party headquarters in Berlin, I'm Reuters Chief Correspondent, Paul Carroll.
SPD leadership has just agreed that Olaf Scholz, the mayor of Hamburg, will take over as party leader on an interim caretaker basis. Until a party conference in April, when they want Andrea Nahles to take over as leader. The party leaders have agreed to put forward Nahles. So the immediate challenge for Olaf Schultz and Andrea Nahles is to get the party membership behind this new coalition deal.
There are 464,000 party members. And they're gonna vote on whether to go ahead with this coalition government. The results of that are due on March the 4th. The outcome is wide open. Many people in the party are unhappy at the prospect of teaming up with Merkel again. And if they vote no, which is a possibility, the outcome is likely to be new elections.
And that will be bad for the SPD too, because a poll just today showed that their popularity has slumped to 16.5%. That's only just ahead of the Alternative for Germany, the far-right party. And so the SPD's now at a record low. Really, the rank and file are upset about, first of all, Martin Schulz, the outgoing leader, who flip-flopped.
He said last year he would not serve in a Merkel government, in her cabinet. Then just last week he flip-flopped and said he wanted to be foreign minister, only two days later to decide he wouldn't be foreign minister. Secondly, many people in the rank and file were unhappy with the hand over to Nahles.
Initially Shultz put her forward as a kinda fait accompli that she would be leader. Many people felt that was a stitch up. So both Olaf Sholtz, the interim leader, and Nahles, the likely new leader, have got a big task on their hands.