The ruling German party SPD will not terminate former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s membership because of his friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and ties to Russian state energy companies.
According to an arbitration committee, there is no evidence that party rules have been violated, German media report.
Schröder’s ties with Russia were already controversial before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but because of the war, criticism has grown considerably. At the party office in Hanover, where Schröder is registered, seventeen requests were received from SPD departments to deprive the former chancellor of membership.
The arbitration committee of the Social Democrats in Hanover considered the matter. The 78-year-old Schröder was not at the hearings and had not sent a lawyer. German media previously wrote that it was unlikely that the former head of government would be expelled from the party.
Schröder ruled on behalf of the Social Democrats from 1998 to 2005, along with the Greens. In May, a few months after the war in Ukraine started, he decided under pressure to give up his board position at the energy company Rosneft. He also declined a similar position at Gazprom. However, Schröder refused to distance himself from Putin last week.