European Parliament President Martin Schulz is reported to be seeking a move to the corridors of power in Berlin. It's led to speculation he might become the SPD's candidate to stand against Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The German daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Thursday that, according to sources within the center-left Social Democrat party (SPD), Schulz would no longer continue in his role as President of the European Parliament.
Instead, the paper reported, the 60-year-old is already pegged for top billing on a list of Bundestag candidates for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The decision was said to have been circulated internally within the party on Wednesday evening. However, it remained unclear what role Schulz would be likely to take up.
The Rhineland-born politician has been hinted at as becoming the SPD's candidate to stand directly against Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said she would run for a fourth term on Sunday. Some parts of the SPD are thought to favor him over German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel in the race to take over the chancellery. However, Schulz has so far denied he has plans to run to be chancellor.
Among the other contenders to stand as candidates for chancellor is Hamburg's mayor, Olaf Scholz.
Globe trotting position?
An alternative role for Schulz might be that of foreign minister, with the current incumbent of the post, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, expected to become Germany's next president after the departure of current head of state Joachim Gauck. Many supporters within the SPD believe Schulz's experience in the European arena would stand him in good stead for the role.
Both the vice chancellorship and the portfolio of foreign minister currently belong to the SPD, the junior partner to Merkel's Christian Democrats in a left-right "Grand Coalition."
It had already been thought that Schulz might leave the parliamentary office, following a non-binding agreement with the conservative European Peoples' Party in the European Parliament. They had insisted on taking over the presidency of the legislature for the second half of its duration. However, Schulz had been thought to be seeking to retain the role until recently.