Scholz party rejects bid to expel German ex-leader Schroeder

BERLIN (AP) — Local officials with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s party rejected a bid to expel former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder over his close ties to Russia, the news agency dpa reported Monday.

An arbitration committee of the center-left Social Democrats’ branch in Hannover, where Schroeder lives, considered 17 applications from party members for proceedings against him.

Schroeder’s longstanding connections to the Russian energy sector and refusal to distance himself fully from President Vladimir Putin after Russia invaded Ukraine have left his political standing in tatters.

However, the SPD committee determined his actions don’t constitute a breach of the party’s rules, according to dpa.

His expulsion from the SPD had been seen as unlikely. In Germany, expelling party members is a complicated and often lengthy process that frequently fails. However, an appeal of Monday’s decision is still possible.

Schroeder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005 and was the Social Democrats’ leader from 1999 to 2004, has shown no signs of heeding calls from senior party figures to tone down his rhetoric on Russia or leave the party of his own accord.

That has come with political consequences within Germany. In May, German lawmakers agreed to shut down Schroeder’s taxpayer-funded office, and he gave up the title of honorary citizen of Hannover, preempting a likely decision by city officials.

Schroeder has shrugged off the pressure and continued to maintain his ties with Putin. He most recently met with the Russian leader on a visit to Moscow in late July.

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