CNBC — Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz would not be the right replacement for Chancellor Angela Merkel because of his choice to prioritize the needs of Greek communists over German taxpayers, Germany’s deputy finance minister Jens Spahn told CNBC on Wednesday.
“(Schulz) is part of the political elite in Brussels and Berlin but he tries to shape himself as someone from outside and so far it seems to work but of course we have to tackle him on this and to ask him about his positions in the past,” Spahn told CNBC on Wednesday.
“He was always a better friend to the communists in Athens than to the German taxpayers and that for example is an issue we will bring up,” he added.
Schulz’s approval ratings have rocketed skywards in recent months and the center-left candidate now finds himself as the political frontrunner to become Germany’s new premier, according to the latest opinion polls.
Schulz has built a political reputation in Brussels and Berlin as a straight-talking champion of Europe who has campaigned for the bloc’s best-performing economies to help ailing euro area members, such as Greece.
A potential headache for Schulz could prove to be that while he has historically been in favor of Germany doing more to help Athens, a stark contrast to Merkel’s stance, most citizens do not appear to support this concept.
“The question of homeland security… How safe is it actually to walk through our train stations? That’s a big issue for many many people in Germany and so if we talk about this and we have two parties with different positions on that, that’s going to be a good campaigning year,” Spahn predicted.
SPD were not immediately available to comment when contacted by CNBC on Wednesday.