German coalition strains spill over to European Parliament

September 13, 2016 7:02 PM EDT

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Strains in Germany's right-center ruling coalition are playing out in the race for the presidency of the European Parliament, with the conservative European People's Party (EVP) trying to oust Martin Schulz, a German center-left Social Democrat.

Manfred Weber, who heads the EVP party in the European Parliament and is also German, told the Bild newspaper the party would present its own candidate for the presidential race in January 2017 to replace Schulz. He said Schulz and his Social Democrats agreed earlier that the conservatives would rotate into the presidency at that point.

The dispute reflects growing tensions between German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats, junior partners in the ruling coalition, about issues ranging from Russia to Merkel's open-door refugee policy.

Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats are jockeying for position with the Social Democrats ahead of next year's federal election in Germany, when a weakened Merkel is expected to run for a fourth term.

"Europa has to deliver, and for that we need the partnership in the European Parliament between the EVP and the Social Democrats. But partnership means being able to trust that agreements will be honored," Weber said.

Sources close to Schulz told Bild that he planned to fight to retain the job, noting that the conservatives already controlled two of the three top jobs, with Donald Tusk serving as president of the European Council and Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission.

A source close to Schulz told Bild that in a grand coalition, one party could not control everything. If Schulz had to resign, then Tusk would have to leave as well, the source said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Grant McCool)

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