German finance minister into runoff in party leadership race

International

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s finance minister, a strong advocate of the Social Democrats’ governing coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, has won the first round of a membership ballot to lead the center-left party.

Olaf Scholz, who is also vice chancellor, and former regional lawmaker Klara Geywitz together received almost 22.7% of the vote in a race between six pairs.

Scholz and Geywitz face a party leadership runoff next month against lawmaker Saskia Esken and former regional minister Norbert Walter-Borjans, who received 21% support.

The Social Democrats, Germany’s oldest party, are in a deep poll slump and agreed only reluctantly last year to continue as junior partners in a coalition with Merkel’s bloc.

The party is expected to decide later this year whether to stay in Merkel’s government or leave, possibly triggering an early election.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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