Former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, who resigned on Monday (6 May), spent Wednesday (8 May) in conference with his Social Democratic Party colleagues.
Former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, who resigned on Monday (6 May), spent Wednesday (8 May) in conference with his Social Democratic Party colleagues. Afterwards he announced his intention to remain as party chairman and refuted suggestions that his resignation was connected with the possibility he may have been subject to Communist blackmail.
Herr Brandt's shock decision to step down came after the disclosure that one of his top aides is a self-confessed East German spy. The announcement brought tributes and expressions of regret from around the world. Tens of thousand of West Germans staged "Willy Don't Go" demonstrations. The former Chancellor described suggestions that he was susceptible to blackmail as "grotesque". He said that free from office and in his position as head of the party he would be able to hold out against anything that would descend on his head.
Meanwhile, West Germany's new Chancellor-designate, Helmut Schmidt held his first discussions with advisers on forming a new government. Herr Schmidt, who is Deputy Chairman of the Social Democratic Party and Finance Minister, is due to be sworn in as the new head of government on 16th May.
However, the situation is complicated by the fact that the present leader of the junior liberal ally in the coalition, Walter Scheel, is acting as stand-in Chancellor and has been acclaimed as the governing parties' candidate for the Presidential elections to take place the day before the new Chancellor is to be sworn in. Herr Willy Brandt, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has been the west German leader for five years. On his resignation he recommended Helmut Schmidt as his successor, and this has been accepted by the governing parties.