After weeks of talks and months of political wrangling, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has finally emerged with a deal to form a new governing coalition following inconclusive parliamentary polls in September that left her ruling center-right Christian Democratic Union and its partners in limbo.
"Therefore, I hereby declare that I am withdrawing my bid to enter the federal government, and sincerely hope that this would end the candidacy debate within the SPD", Schulz said in a written statement.
Merkel, who will secure a fourth term as chancellor if the coalition deal holds, has also come under fire from some in her own camp who say she has made too many concessions to the SPD, including handing it control of the powerful finance ministry.
Merkel's conservatives and the SPD agreed on Wednesday to form a coalition government but SPD members have the right to veto the deal.
Gabriel is still in office in a caretaker capacity while the proposed coalition deal is put to a referendum of SPD members.
He had previously ruled out both repeating the "grand coalition" for a third time under Merkel, and serving as a minister in her cabinet.
Schulz said, growing debate surrounding his bid for Foreign Ministry portfolio, could jeopardize the upcoming vote of SPD members on the coalition agreement.
Merkel's CDU is holding a party congress February 26 to endorse the deal.
There was no sign of an imminent end to talks between Merkel's Union bloc and the Social Democrats early Wednesday, some 21 hours into what party leaders have said should be the final round of negotiations.
"The way in which Schulz left could make it hard to quickly focus on the party's achievements in the coalition talks", Carsten Nickel, a Brussels-based analyst at Teneo Intelligence, said in an e-mail response to questions.
Senior figures of Social Democratic Party (SPD), including the current Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, have publicly criticized Schulz and accused him of not keeping his promises.
If a deal emerges, it won't bring an immediate end to the political limbo following Germany's September 24 election.
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