2019 Social Democratic Party of Germany leadership election
The 2019 Social Democratic Party of Germany leadership election took place in the autumn of 2019 to elect the new leadership of the Social Democratic Party of Germany following the resignation of the Andrea Nahles on 3 June 2019. Although the leader of the party are elected indirectly by a party convention, for the first time since 1993 the SPD held a vote by the membership to decide the candidate which the party's executive board will propose to the party convention. Though the convention is not obliged to elect the proposed candidates, the membership vote is considered politically binding. The membership vote was held in two rounds, with the top two tickets from the first round proceeding to a runoff. In the first round held between 14 and 25 October, Olaf Scholz and Klara Geywitz placed first with 22.7% of the vote, while Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken placed second with 21.0%. In the second round, Walter-Borjans and Esken won with 53.1% of the vote to Scholz and Geywitz's 45.3%. In December 2019, the SPD party convention elected Walter-Borjans and Esken as the new co-leaders of the party.
In the 2017 federal election, the SPD won just 20.5% of votes cast, its worst result in the history of the Federal Republic. Party leaderMartin Schulz subsequently announced that the SPD would not renew the grand coalition with the Christian Democratic Union in which it had served since 2013. However, in November, after it became clear that there were no viable alternatives, Schulz reneged on his pledge and called an extraordinary party conference which voted to negotiate a new coalition agreement with the CDU. Schulz was subject to significant opposition and criticism from the party, and resigned as leader in February 2018. However, the coalition agreement was approved by 66.0% of the party members in a vote held later that month, and the SPD re-entered government. Schulz proposed Andrea Nahles as his successor, and she was confirmed as the SPD's new leader at a party convention in April 2018. Nahles quickly faced difficulties with the new government as many disputes arose over the summer of 2018, including the "asylum quarrel" and controversy around Hans-Georg Maaßen. Nahles was unable to stabilize her party as its performance in opinion polling declined to record lows, accompanied by a string of historically poor state election performances. In national polling, the SPD was overtaken by the Greens in October 2018, and the party polled around 15% through early 2019. In the 2019 European elections held on 26 May, the SPD placed third, winning only 15.8% of votes cast – the worst result for the party on a national level since 1887. Nahles came under major pressure to step down, and announced her resignation on 3 June. The party was thereafter led by acting leaders Malu Dreyer, Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel and Manuela Schwesig until the party conference in December which elected the new leadership.
Party members were permitted to declare their candidacy between 1 July and 1 September. Candidates were able to run as a sole candidate to head the party alone, or with another member on a two-person ticket to serve as co-leaders. In the latter case, at least one candidate was required to be female. Each single candidate or two-person ticket needed sufficient support from state, regional, or local SPD associations in order to run. The requirements were one state association, one regional district, or five local districts. If no candidacy receives an absolute majority of the votes cast in the first round, the two candidacies with the highest number of votes cast proceed to a second round. Both votes were to be considered invalid if less than 20% of the party membership participated. The party's executive board was to propose the winner of the vote to the party convention which took place between 6 and 8 December.