At a national party conference in Berlin on Sunday, the main opposition party decided not to chose a chancellor candidate until after the state election in Lower Saxony, scheduled for January 20, 2013.
“It seems to me to be a realistic moment for the candidate nomination, if we use the momentum of the Lower Saxony vote,” the party's parliamentary manager Thomas Oppermann told the regional daily Leipziger Volkszeitung.
The three men clearly in the running – party leader Sigmar Gabriel, parliamentary group boss Frank-Walter Steinmeier and former Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück – would lead the party into the state election together, said Oppermann.
They “will fight for victory as a troika and they will certainly ensure that Germany finally gets a better government,” he said.
Yet the potential for trouble of having three SPD big political movers circling each other for another full year was flagged up by former party leader Franz Müntefering, who called for the potential chancellor candidates to exercise self-discipline during that time.
Müntefering told the Passauer Neue Presse the three men did not have to hide themselves, but said the SPD conference was also not to be regarded as a casting show. At the moment everything they say is viewed through the lens of a chancellor candidacy, he said.
“Now everyone has to make an effort to make sure the process remains open and leads to a good result,” said Müntefering.